With the domestic season entering a crucial phase, Real Betis Balompié are enduring tricky times, with the Seville-based side currently bottom of the Liga, 11 points from safety.
On the European front, meanwhile, their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against FC Rubin Kazan hangs in the balance, yet a triumph on Russian soil on Thursday would go a long way towards lifting morale among Gabriel Calderón's charges.
Betis's domestic problems were momentarily eased in last week's first leg when Didac Vilà scored for the hosts in the third minute. Things looked even more promising for the Spanish outfit after Rubin's Aleksandr Prudnikov was ordered off before the half-hour. A Roman Eremenko penalty 16 minutes from time, however, silenced the Betis fans who now await the outcome of their team's fate in the return encounter.
"Our chances of progress hang on us scoring in the second leg," Calderón pointed out following the 1-1 draw, which helped Rubin increase their unbeaten European run this term to 13 games. "
We know we can win the match despite the fact we will not be used to the conditions over there, in terms of the weather and the [artificial] pitch. Having said that, we will adapt in order to seek a way through to the next round."
Despite suffering their 17th league defeat of the campaign at the weekend – a 2-0 reverse at home to Athletic Club – Betis are determined to make amends in Europe, with goalkeeper Antonio Adán assuring UEFA.com his side can advance to the last 16, where Sevilla FC or NK Maribor await. "I think we showed in the first match that we were superior to Rubin," said the former Real Madrid CF keeper. "We realise it will be hard over there but we will keep in mind the fact we did very well at home."
It was at the Benito Villamarín that attacker Cedric spurned several opportunities to increase the Verdiblancos' lead – but the 21-year-old insists Betis can recover. "We will give everything we have to continue in the UEFA Europa League, which is a very attractive tournament," he said. "The tie is still wide open so we will go to Russia full of hope and expectation."
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