We asked a Spanish football expert what Sheffield United should expect from pre-season friendly opponents Real Betis
Sheffield United take on La Liga side Real Betis this evening in their first friendly match of the pre-season campaign, and we had a chat with 90min's Spanish football expert Andrew Headspeath, who gave us an insight into the Blades' opponents.
It's all change at Betis this summer, with the club having recently appointed a new manager – Rubi – who has previously been at the helm of sides such as Espanyol and Sporting Gijon. Discussing how much of a challenge the Blades could expect from their opponents, Headspeath said: “A fair amount, to be honest. Betis have a strong team and, crucially, this game will be the club's first under new manager.
“The squad will be keen to make a good impression to avoid getting shipped out this summer after a disappointing 2018/19.”
Indeed, the Spanish side had to settle for an underwhelming 10th place finish last season, with a dire run of form towards the end of the campaign seeing them win just twice in ten matches.
Going on to discussing the club's key players who the Blades would be coming up against, Headspeath revealed: “Several big names are unlikely to feature, with Spurs-linked Giovani Lo Celso on a break after the Copa America, and Junior Firpo only just back from winning the Under-21 Euros.
“37-year-old winger Joaquin still has it though, while Marc Bartra, William Carvalho and Sergio Canales are quality operators to look out for.”
Clearly, while Betis may be without some of their key players, they've got enough about them to give the Blades a real test on Friday night.
The journalist also discussed the side's playing style, stating: “In recent seasons under former manager Quique Setien, Betis were uncompromisingly swashbuckling - somewhere in between a Barcelona light and Kevin Keegan's entertainers.”
He continued: “Time will tell how Rubi sets up, but he impressed by leading tiny Huesca to La Liga, before finishing seventh with an unfancied Espanyol.”
The Blades' big game kicks off at 20:00 (GMT) on Friday evening, and Chris Wilder is expected to hand starts to new signings Luke Freeman and Phil Jagielka, as well as trialist centre-back Joel Lynch.