The Cardiff City Stadium, a place where I have mixed memories. On the one hand, I’ve been in the away end with Villa while the Bluebirds thrashed us 3-0 (and the 1-0 defeat the season before), but on the other I was there for the European Championship qualifiers where Wales made history.
Anyway, onto the match. This was Cardiff’s last pre-season game until things kicked off against Bournemouth away. Funnily enough, Real Betis beat Bournemouth on Friday.
It took just five minutes for Cardiff to open the scoring, Josh Murphy skinned Javi Garcia before blasting the ball into the roof of the net. A goal that’s well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.
I can honestly say I’ve never seen a bigger mismatch than 5-foot-7 Takashi Inui trying to challenge 6-foot-4 Sean Morrison in the air.
Talking of Morrison, he almost scored a header from outside the box. The word aerial threat is thrown around quite a lot these days, but he is the definition of one.
But it was Betis who got the games second goal. Loren Moron, who had tested Neil Etheridge minutes earlier, cut inside before finding a finish.
Then the Spaniards got another. Former Barcelona winger Christian Tello beat Lee Peltier down the line, prior to toe poking a shot off Sol Bamba leaving Etheridge unsighted. 1-2.
It could been level at half-time had Callum Paterson’s scorpion kick from Junior Hoillet’s cross not gone over. Admittedly Hoilett had time and the cross should’ve been better, but there was to be no Fortnite celebration from the Scot.
Throughout the game, Real Betis had the most of the ball and were just pinging it from side to side waiting for an opening. That opening would often come from Tello, who smashed the crossbar in the dying embers of the first half.
Bruno Ecuele Manga acquitted himself well in Cardiff’s backline, and executed two Cruyff turns in the space of five minutes to get away from Betis attackers.
Another of Cardiff’s standout performers was Murphy, but the former Norwich man missed a guilt edged chance when he was played through by Hoillet. With the goal at his mercy, Murphy side footed wide of Pau Lopez’ left post.
Betis fans, who were on our right, didn’t stop singing. A Spanish rendition of ‘I love you baby’ seemed to be a favourite.
The Welsh side did go for it as the game drew to a close. Joe Ralls and Murphy both forced good saves from Lopez, and Betis had a couple of squeaky moments where defenders had to dig them out at the last minute.
However, as it normally is, Cardiff had their best chance at the death. A ball found its way over to Greg Cunningham at the back post, but the newboy couldn’t find the target with his side foot.
As with the Murphy chance, if Cardiff waste those opportunities from now on, will mean one or two points lost, so for Neil Warnocks sake it’s good they wasted them in pre-season. And for my sake, at least it wasn’t Villa!