Matthew O'Connor

THE two teams with the worst records of the Segunda Vuelta go head-to-head tonight when Real Mallorca host the enigmatic Real Betis. Mallorca have won just one point in the second half of the season, while Victor Fernandez's Betis side have won a measly three. The Islanders, on a high after Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final defeat of Deportivo, will have to return to earth quickly or they could find themselves in a relegation battle reminiscent of last season. Sitting in 16th place in the league Gregorio Manzano's side are three points clear of the drop zone. “The team must try to get back to some kind of normality in the league from Sunday to Sunday and recover some of their consistency,” said Manzano yesterday. “Tomorrow's match is the ideal moment to regain our league form and move back into a less dangerous position in the league. “Betis have some incredible players so we will have to be fully focused for the whole ninety minutes. It's quite possible the match will be decided on the wings like when we played them in the first half of the season,” he added. Manzano also said he would make “minimal changes” to the side that defeated holders Depor in the Cup on Wednesday. One possible change could be Vicente Fernandez slotting back into central defence as Poli moves out to the left, relegating veteran defender Miquel Soler to the bench. Fellow defenders Miguel Nadal, Javier Olaizola and Fernando Niño all remain injured. The highly talented, but highly inconsistent, Betis lost at home to arch rivals Seville last weekend and are desperate to get their push for a Champions League place back on track after a dire recent run. Coach Fernandez made his name producing a highly exciting counter-attacking side at Celta and Betis aren't much different. Like Celta though Betis suffer from defensive frailties something Mallorca forwards Samuel Eto'o and Walter Pandiani will be looking to capitalise upon. Manzano's prophecy that the match will be won and lost on the flanks could well turn out to be true, especially as Betis boast the likes of Spain international Joaquin and Brazilian star Denilson, two of the best wide players in the game. The bad news for Betis, and good news for Mallorca, is the absence of the extremely hard working and talented bald midfielder Marcos Assunçao due to injury.

Leo Franco; Cortés, Lussenhoff, Vicente, Poli; Novo, Harold Lozano, Ibagaza, Riera; Pandiani, Eto'o.
Prats; Varela, Rivas, Melli, Mingo; Ito, Arzu, Joaquín, Denilson; Capi; Fernando.


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