SPANISH PRIMERA DIVISIÓN

Benito Villamarin

Attendance: 24000

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Real Betis

  • Jorge Molina 41'

1 - 2

FT

Elche

  • Manu 29'
  • Fidel 33'

Escriba recognises Betis threat

Elche coach Fran Escriba declared his respect for Real Betis ahead of Sunday's game in Seville but promised his side would not be afraid of their hosts.

Escriba's men lie 13th in the Primera Division table - one point and one place above Betis - but the coach was keen to emphasise the quality of the opposition at his pre-game press conference.

"Betis are playing European football, and that says a lot about their standard," he said.

"They deserve more points than they have and they belong near the top of the league."

On the strategy his team might deploy at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, the coach explained: "We need to be very focused in defence, but we mustn't just sit back, because any action that takes place near our area poses a threat to our goal. We will be brave and play to our strengths."

Elche are one of the in-form teams in Spain after beating Celta Vigo and Espanyol, but Escriba is determined that his side will not lose sight of their original objectives.

"People think that because we have won two games we'll rest on our laurels, but that's not true," he said. "We are very focused on winning in Seville."

Betis were beaten 3-1 by Getafe in their last competitive game, played just before the international break, and boss Pepe Mel admitted he was desperate to see a reaction to that loss.

"As a professional, it's never good to have a break when your last match was so awful," he said. "In these last few days all we've been able to think about is that we did a bad job.

"Of course, at some level, a break is good because it allows you to return to training and pay attention to certain aspects of your game which you can't focus on when you're playing on a Sunday then a Thursday (in reference to the team's Europa League commitments).

"But a break after a defeat like the one we had at Getafe is never good."

The coach also dismissed the suggestion Elche were not a good side.

"Elche have proven footballers and they have a point more than us, so it doesn't matter what type of club they are," he said.

"They are playing well, they are a very difficult team, they had a magnificent season in the Segunda Division last season and completely deserved to get promoted."

He also called for his players to be optimistic about the game.

"We cannot play with fear," he said. "We have to think that the game will go well for us and will be very positive for us."

Midfielder Xavi Torres is absent due to injury, as is striker Ruben Castro. Jorge Molina, who spent a season at Elche before moving to Betis, will get the chance to face his old club for the first time.

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