Real Betis set to test Reds on Tour 2024

Thursday 06 June 2024 13:11

Manchester United's most challenging game of Tour 2024 could be the one that is played in San Diego, if our opponents' strong end to the season is any guide.

Real Betis - the team we will face at the Snapdragon Stadium on 31 July - were the last team to deny Real Madrid a victory by drawing 0-0 at the Bernabeu in their final La Liga fixture on 25 May. Seven days later, the hosts were crowned UEFA Champions League winners for the 15th time, after defeating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at Wembley Stadium.

Betis's 0-0 draw in the Spanish capital, on the same day United beat Manchester City to win the Emirates FA Cup final, meant they finished their 38-game league campaign with 57 points - including 15 accrued from the last 24 available. 

Across the course of their last eight fixtures, los Verdiblancos beat Celta Vigo, Valencia, Osasuna and Almeria, and drew with Sevilla and Las Palmas as well as the afore-mentioned Real Madrid. Their only defeat in April or May was in their penultimate game, 2-0 at home to Real Sociedad - who finished one place higher in sixth spot and, therefore, pipped them to Europa League qualification.

Brazilian striker Willian Jose is challenged by Eduardo Camavinga, during Real Betis's draw with Real Madrid.

Betis will still be in Europe next season, however, and will surely be one of the favourites to win the Conference League. Premier League representatives Chelsea will also be tipped to lift UEFA's third-tier trophy, so the Spanish side may see their summer friendlies against Liverpool in Pittsburgh, and then United at San Diego's Snapdragon Stadium as useful measures of the required standard.

Not that their boss Manuel Pellegrini is a stranger to the style and strength of England's top flight of course. The Chilean became the first manager from outside Europe to win our domestic title, when his Manchester City team overtook Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool at the summit in the closing stages of 2013/14.

Pellegrini remained in charge of the Blues until Pep Guardiola replaced him in the summer of 2016 but after two years managing Hebei China Fortune, he was back in the Premier League at the helm of West Ham - albeit for a shorter-than-expected spell, spanning May 2018 to December 2019.

The Betis boss has now been in post at Estadio Benito Villamarin for four seasons, and has achieved European qualification in each of them, with final positions ranging from fifth to seventh.

He's faced United three times in that period, all during the 2022/23 campaign. The first of these was a winter friendly in Spain, when Nabil Fekir's second-half strike secured a slender 1-0 win over the young side selected by Erik ten Hag. 

When the club campaign resumed after the World Cup in Qatar, the Reds and Real Betis were drawn against each other in the Europa League's Round of 16. This time, United were triumphant, winning 4-1 in the home leg at Old Trafford - with goals from Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Wout Weghorst - and 1-0 away, with Rashford again on the scoresheet.
Highlights: United v Real Betis Video

Highlights: United v Real Betis

Watch two minutes of action from our Europa League first leg with Real Betis at Old Trafford...

Real Betis's only scorer in the tie, Ayose Perez, is also his club's sole representative in Spain's provisional squad for Euro 2024.

The winger, who netted 45 Premier League goals across his eight years with Newcastle United and Leicester City, marked his international debut in style last night.

Perez grabbed the opener and assisted the next strike - the first of a hat-trick for Real Sociedad's Mikel Oyarzabal - as la Roja defeated Andorra 5-0 in a friendly.

Real Betis winger Ayose Perez scores a debut goal for Spain in last night's 5-0 win over Andorra.

It remains to be seen whether the 30-year-old will face United again, but whoever's on the teamsheet in San Diego, it promises to be an intriguing clash between the Reds and Real Betis.

The Snapdragon Cup will be up for grabs at the stadium of the same name, and fans heading there on 31 July will be in for a treat. 

Tickets for United v Real Betis at the Snapdragon Stadium are available here.