Real Madrid cruises by Real Betis
Mesut Ozil scored twice to ensure Real Madrid will go into their Champions League semifinal clash with Borussia Dortmund on the back of a Primera Division win.
Germany international Ozil broke the deadlock against Real Betis on the stroke of halftime and then wrapped up the scoring with his second right at the end of the 3-1 victory.
"We know what kind of player Ozil is, everything that he creates [for the team]," Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka said. "He has had some [physical problems]. Playing all he can is important for him. Now he can rest up for Wednesday's match."
The victory is just what Madrid would have been hoping for heading into a crucial run of fixtures over the next 10 days.
On Wednesday they travel to Germany for the first leg of their Champions League semifinal against Dortmund before facing local rivals Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon next weekend. Three days after that derby, Jose Mourinho's men play the second leg against Dortmund at the Bernabeu.
Madrid's win came at a cost, however, with Marcelo and Luka Modric both needing to be substituted for injuries. Karanka said Modric hurt a leg muscle. Benzema was also favouring his right leg after a collision with a defender and was subbed late.
"The injuries are too bad because they are important players for us, but we have a deep squad," said Madrid defender Pepe, who went on for Modric in the second half.
Mourinho rested several first-choice players, including his entire defense and holding midfielder. Brazilian midfielder Casemiro got his first start for Madrid after joining its reserve side from Sao Paulo this winter, while the little-used Fernandez stepped in at right back.
Information from Press Association and The Associated Press contributed to this report.