Real Madrid matchwinner Dani Ceballos accepted he did not expect to be whistled on his return to Real Betis.

Santiago Solari insisted his decision to leave Isco as an unused substitute in a 2-1 win at Real Betis was nothing personal against the Real Madrid midfielder.

Karim Benzema fractured his finger in Real Madrid's win at Real Betis, coach Santiago Solari has confirmed.

Dani Ceballos scored a late winning free-kick against his old club as Real Madrid battled to a 2-1 LaLiga victory at Real Betis.

Cristiano Ronaldo's absence is still keenly felt at Real Madrid, according to William Carvalho, who would not have sold him even for €200million.

Real Madrid head coach Santiago Solari is showing little inclination to bring Isco into his starting XI as he plots a return to winning ways in LaLiga

Madrid head to Real Betis on Sunday on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu last weekend that left them fifth in Spain's top flight.

That result followed a 2-2 draw at Villarreal, although there was a restorative 3-0 Copa del Rey win over Leganes in midweek.

Isco featured as a substitute in all three of those matches and the Spain playmaker has only started once under Solari, scoring twice in December's 6-1 Copa win over minnows Melilla.

"He is good, the same as the other players who have been training," said Solari.

"I would love for all of the players to play more, the less enjoyable part of the job is deciding upon a line-up and leaving people out.

"I am not the one who should give advice to Isco, a footballer who has played for many seasons in Spain's top division.

"He has the experience necessary to know what he has to do."

Teenage forward Vinicius Jr is a doubt following a bout of flu.

"We don't know if Vinicius will travel," Solari added.

"The strength of Real Madrid is the togetherness [of the squad].

"The positive sign is that an 18-year-old has come in and is doing so well."

Real Betis fans embraced the season of goodwill on Saturday as they hurled soft toys onto the pitch at half-time of the LaLiga match with Eibar.

Hundreds of teddy bears and other stuffed animals were thrown from the stands of the Benito Villamarin after a pre-game appeal on behalf of the club for charitable donations.

The toys, gathered up promptly before the second half, are to be donated to disadvantaged families in the region as part of the club's commitment to community outreach.

In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, all fans who attended the match were also given special green Christmas hats "to complete the festive atmosphere".

Feyenoord fans did something similar back in August, when they threw littered the De Kuip turf with toys to be given to patients at Rotterdam's Sophia Children's Hospital.

Giovani Lo Celso will sign permanently for Real Betis when his loan from Paris Saint-Germain comes to an end, according to club president Jose Miguel Lopez Catalan.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been in fine form since joining Betis in August and shone in the club's shock 4-3 victory over Barcelona on Sunday.

Lo Celso scored in the 71st minute at Camp Nou to put Betis 3-1 up and put in an eye-catching performance in a game that saw Lionel Messi score twice for the hosts on his return from injury.

Lopez Catalan said the club would endeavour to keep Lo Celso when his loan expires in June, and explained that Betis have a compulsory clause to purchase the player should they qualify for European competition as well as first refusal if they do not.

"It is very clear that Lo Celso is going to stay at Betis," Lopez Catalan told Radio Marca.

"We are convinced. We were convinced throughout the summer."
 
Lopez Catalan was in talks with Barcelona over the potential signing of Rafinha before the season started but he claimed that Lo Celso was always the preferred option.

"He was our option number one and is proving that he is the player we believed," said the Betis chief.

"There is a mandatory purchase option for €25million if we enter Europe. And if not, it is optional for us and mandatory for PSG, if we carry it out."

Santiago Solari is not selecting Isco as he feels the Real Madrid star is yet to regain full fitness after surgery, according to Dani Ceballos.

Isco had appendicitis surgery but was quickly recalled by Julen Lopetegui, starting in a 5-1 Clasico thumping away to Barcelona that proved his final game in charge.

But Solari has not picked Isco since taking over, with the club's former winger leading Madrid to four straight wins during his time as interim coach.

Solari, who was named Lopetegui's permanent successor on Tuesday after signing a deal to 2021, has said he will not rush "special" Isco back into action.

And Spain midfielder Ceballos explained ongoing fitness issues following Isco's operation are behind his recent absences from the Real Madrid XI.

"He is a player who came from a major injury and went through surgery," Ceballos told El Chiringuito.

"With Julen he played two consecutive games and with Solari he said he saw him a bit out of shape, but he is training 100 per cent.

"He knows the importance of managing a dressing room and has the philosophy of Madrid's values."

Ceballos has already started four LaLiga games this term, as many times as he was named in a league XI for the whole of the 2017-18 campaign.

But the 22-year-old accepted he considered asking to return to former club Real Betis last season due to a lack of opportunities under former boss Zinedine Zidane.

"In January, I thought about going out [on loan] and going back to Betis," Ceballos added. "Zidane told me it was time to stay, I played more and it gave me fruit for this year to have playing experience.

"When I come back [to Betis] and they whistle, I'm hurting, they could renew me and at Betis they were ready to upload the clause when there was an interested team.

"Everything was blamed on me and they washed their hands. I'm Betis, when they whistle it hurts, it was the third most expensive sale in Betis history.

"The first few months were hard at Madrid, Zidane was clear and told me to see the reality and the ones ahead of me, I belonged to Madrid and played 20 games at Madrid. They were like 50 in another club."

Isco and Ceballos are in the latest Spain squad, with Luis Enrique's side playing Croatia in the Nations League on Thursday.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has bemoaned his side's woeful first-half display as they slipped to a shock 4-3 defeat to Real Betis at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Barcelona's shock 4-3 defeat to Real Betis on Sunday marked the first time the Catalan giants have conceded four goals at Camp Nou in 15 years.

The returning Lionel Messi scored twice but was unable to prevent LaLiga leaders Barcelona slipping to a chaotic 4-3 defeat to Real Betis at Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi is back in Barcelona's starting XI for the first time in three weeks following a lay-off with a broken arm, as Real Betis visit Camp Nou.

Ernesto Valverde insists he is not taking a risk by including Lionel Messi in Barcelona's squad to face Real Betis.

LaLiga leaders Barca have received a double injury boost for the clash at Camp Nou with both Messi and centre-back Samuel Umtiti fit to play.

Messi, who broke his arm after falling awkwardly during a collision with Sevilla's Franco Vazquez in a 4-2 win last month, was included in the squad for the midweek Champions League draw against Inter but did not play after failing to receive the medical all clear.

Umtiti has not been involved since September due to a knee problem, but Valverde is confident both players are now ready to be involved.

"We understand that any player theoretically can play the game, but of course there is always a period where you need to be careful," he said. 

"The other day we also knew there was a risk but the fact they've been training with the squad I don't think there's a major risk [now]."

On Messi specifically, he added: "We'll find out tomorrow if I decide he can play 90 minutes or not.

"I think he's lost his fear of taking a fall and provoking further injury, that's out of his head. It does affect you mentally.

"You can't be thinking 'I can't do some strange gesture that causes me pain'. I think he can play, he's pretty assured, I think he'll be okay."

Valverde also confirmed goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is fine to play, despite having been omitted from Germany's squad for the upcoming international window to rest a minor shoulder injury.

"That's what's been decided with the national team. We are keeping a close eye on Marc at the moment, but he is able to play tomorrow," Valverde said. 

"He doesn't have any problems, but we'll keep a close eye on him like we have the last few weeks."

Ernesto Valverde insists his decision to exclude Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona's squad to face Real Betis is not a punishment over reported ill-discipline.

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