Real Madrid’s last game before the Champions League final against Liverpool ended in a goalless draw against Real Betis on Friday in Marcelo’s farewell at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Carlo Ancelotti chose a strong side for Real Madrid’s last game of the season, but with the league title and final looming in Paris, neither side was eager to do more.
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Instead, the contest was notable for the honors being paid to Marcelo and the lack of one for Gareth Bale.
Both players are expected to leave when their contracts expire this summer, but only Marcelo has been involved here, with Bale once again absent from the squad.
Marcelo entered the second half to applause and received the captain’s armband from Karim Benzema, who played the full 90 minutes. Marcelo accepted the applause of his teammates after the final whistle and left, waving to the stands as he went.
“One of the greats of football in the world is saying goodbye, and one of the best defenders in the world,” Ancelotti said.
Meanwhile, Bale has been struggling with a back problem in recent weeks, not having any goodbyes, only his latest clash against a climax at the end of his career in Madrid, which has long been marked by drifting and ill-fitting.
“He cannot be on the bench,” Ancelotti said. “He wanted to say goodbye to the fans but he has one last chance, because I think Bale will be fine in the final.”
The draw means that Ancelotti’s team finished the season with 86 points, 13 points ahead of Barcelona, who could reduce the difference when they play at home to Villarreal on Sunday.
Real Betis occupies fifth place, three points behind Real Sociedad, and qualified for the European League.
The match felt like a show at times, less of a competitive league game than a cozy end-of-season event.
Before kick-off, there was a double honor guard, as Real Madrid recognized Real Betis’ victory in the King’s Cup before Betis saluted Madrid’s victory in the Spanish League, and the fans applauded the entire time.
In addition to the warmth shown by Marcelo, there was also applause for Isco, whose contract also expired at the end of June, and even for Real Betis’ Joaquin, aged 40, who played his 600th game in La Liga. in the second period.
Ancelotti has chosen a strong squad that could be the starting lineup against Liverpool, although David Alaba is still injured, meaning he will play his first game in just over a month later next weekend if the Austrian is brought back straight.
“Alaba will be there for the final play,” Ancelotti said afterwards. “In this type of match, it’s not just about the physical aspect, it’s about the ability and experience.”
Both teams made it through the first half, and neither side played hard enough to force fouls or accuracy to create clear chances.
There were periods when Real Madrid’s lethargy slipped into a slump, with Casemiro upsetting fans and teammates alike when he scrambled to the clearance and then fired a wild shot from near the halfway line.
Benzema opened his first real match early in the second half and made good contact with Dani Carvajal’s cross, but the shot was straight at Betis goalkeeper Rui Silva. The French player almost won it seven minutes before the end, but he shot over it after hitting a shot from Rodrigo.
Marcelo, Isco and Joaquin were all involved and Joaquin was supposed to score in the 86th minute. Cristiano Tello’s cross to the back post was well cleared for the striker, but he missed from eight yards away.
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