Look beyond the ‘big two’ of Spanish football, and it would be hard to argue that Real Sociedad and Real Betis are not among the biggest overachievers in recent years. Both clubs boast talented, exciting squads with players who can make a difference in the biggest moments.
In this latest cup clash, expect both teams to play their strongest XIs as they look to get through to the next round and taste silverware. Can Sociedad add a second Copa del Rey in just three years? To do so, they need to overcome high-flying Betis.
Imanol Alguaci has been a fine hire for Sociedad, turning them into a respectable European name once again. The club are unbeaten so far in the new year, but they have looked a little less assured in recent weeks than they did prior to the new year beginning. They struggled last time out against Getafe, and they sit some six points off their visitors in a UEFA Champions League race for position.
However, three clean sheets in a row shows that Sociedad are turning around what was once a rather leaky defensive style. The club are also unbeaten at home in the Copa del Rey since 2017, and with a mostly-fit squad should feel pretty confident coming into this one. If they can find their scoring touch that went missing against Getafe, they could be in a fine position ahead of a crucial run of games.
Betis are arguably the feelgood story of Spanish football since Manuel Pellegrini arrived. Betis, arguably the fourth-best supported club in Spain, boast a massive following and thus massive expectation. Watching their once-smaller rival in Sevilla win multiple UEFA Cup/Europa League trophies has stung. Now, with Sevilla in a legitimate title fight, Betis want to make it into the UCL to claim their own piece of history.
However, Pellegrini will have one eye on the Copa del Rey as a way of truly securing his legacy as a club icon. Betis have won only three of their last six in all competitions, but they have a rich scoring touch and have done all-year long. Though focus will be put on a busy league and European calendar, Pellegrini will be eager to make sure he does not waste the chance to reach the semi-finals of a cup competition. Especially after knocking Sevilla out in the previous round.
This should be an excellent game of football, with two very impressive teams outside of the usual elite in the Spanish game. Both sides came through tough quarter finals, and now have a legitimate shot at reaching the final four with a good result on Thursday.
However, with Betis only reaching the last four once since they lifted the cup in 2005, history is against them here. Sociedad are a strong cup side, and come into this one boasting the better chance of coming through the other side with the all-important victory in the bag. Expect goals, drama, and chaos as two excellent La Liga sides face off with absolute motivation to get through.
BET – 4-2 Real Sociedad