I guess this is a bit what it must be like on Death Row. Strictly, there's the faint hope of a last-minute pardon from the governor, but deep down you must just want it to be over. If Susan Sarandon can stick around to usher you towards the light, then so much the better.
With all hope gone - it was extinguished definitively, I think we can say, in the last 10 minutes of the Málsga match - these five last games are pretty much the definition of going through the motions. Rayo are hardly desperate for the win as a run of five victories and two draws in their last eight games has brought them up to the very respectable total of 37 points, but as every other team in the league seems to be able to beat Betis without even trying, it's more than likely that Paco Jémez's combatative bunch will be able to do the same. In fact, the Rayo coach might just be the day's key man; there are rumours that Betis would like him to spearhead the promotion push next season and if you've ever seen this video of a team-talk he did towards the end of last season, you'll probably agree that he looks like he'd be ideal. (And besides, the last ex-Rayo coach we took on didn't turn out too badly.)
The Betis squad is plagued by injuries,with Amaya, Nosa, Salva Sevilla, Nacho, Dídac, etc, all out, and Juan Carlos's appeal against his preposterous derbi red card was not upheld - surprise! - so the back four of Juanfran, Paulao, Figueras and Chica more or less picks itself, as does the middle three of Nono, Lolo Reyes and N'Diaye, while Rubén C, Jorge M and Leo B should start up front. (A couple of notes from the derbi: Sevilla fans had a lot of fun at Nono's expense, which visibly upset him, while Juanfran was very warmly applauded by Béticos when he was substituted; he's one of those players who almost cares too much.)
Rayo, who you will remember finished off Pepe Mel's Betis career in the first game between the clubs, are particularly hard to beat in their compact Madrid ground, and with the visitors so obviously down on their luck right now we can be pretty confident of a home victory, I'm afraid. We already know it's time to start looking forward to next season - and there was some good news yesterday with Betis B making the Tercera play-offs, and both on-loan Béticos, Sergio Rodríguez and Vincenzo Renella, scoring for Lugo in Segunda. One day we'll look back at these dark times and laugh, I promise.