Mel: Betis fans stil angry
Real Betis coach Pepe Mel doubts even a victory over mighty Real Madrid on Saturday will redeem his side in the eyes of their fans for last weekend's embarrassing derby mauling at the hands of Sevilla.
Betis made the short trip to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan looking well set for a successful evening last Sunday, lying fourth in the Primera Division and facing a Sevilla side who had slumped to 10th after taking just one point from their previous three matches.
However, the night quickly turned into a nightmare for Betis, who found themselves trailing 2-0 after five minutes, 4-0 down at half-time and, after having Ruben Perez sent off in the 62nd minute, they might have been grateful only to ship one more goal in the second half as they slumped to a 5-1 loss.
Betis will now have to face the fall-out from that defeat when they play host to Madrid on Saturday, and Mel knows it will not be easy to win the fans back over straight away.
However, he does still expect them to get behind the team for the visit of the champions.
"I don't think the Beticos will forgive us, not even if we beat Madrid," he said in AS.
"But I'm sure they will support us; they are generous fans."
Mel knows his team will need the supporters behind them when they take on a Madrid side who have won seven of their last eight league matches as they attempt to claw back the eight-point deficit to La Liga pacesetters Barcelona.
"It's never a good time to play against Madrid. The derby hit us both physically and mentally. We've also lost three centre-backs and we have to rebuild the team," Mel said.
"It's an uneven fight (against Madrid). Only through hope and doubling our efforts will we have a chance of getting something out of the game. But there is hope.
We've always been a grafting club. We can have a horrible game against our arch rivals and, immediately afterwards, we can put Madrid on the ropes."
Madrid were also involved in a 5-1 scoreline last weekend, but they were on the right side of that result as they thumped Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu.
Jose Mourinho's men followed that up with a 1-1 draw at Manchester City in midweek which secured them a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Cristiano Ronaldo was not on the scoresheet in either of the matches, and the world's most expensive player has only netted once in his last five appearances amid continued speculation he is unhappy at Madrid.
Off-field talk and issues aside though, Xabi Alonso insists the Portugal international remains a vital component of the Madrid line-up.
"He's a very important player for the team," said Alonso during an interview with Basque broadcaster ETB where he was also asked about his own personal relationship with Ronaldo.
The Spain midfielder said: "There is appreciation and professional respect between him and me. Clearly not everyone in the changing room are friends of mine and away from the changing room there is almost no relationship between us, but in here we get on well. Cristiano is no diva with us."