Manuel Pellegrini has spent his life and his career calculating, planning and, more often than not, executing the blueprints. Now, he is plotting against Rangers.

The Real Betis side that will arrive in Glasgow on Wednesday comprises of many names and faces that will be familiar to even those who have only a passing interest in La Liga or who have kept an eye on the Premier League in recent seasons. Isco, the former Real Madrid playmaker, is perhaps the star attraction but the likes of Hector Bellerin, Ayoze Perez and Andres Guardado are also part of a group that should certainly not be underestimated ahead of the Group C opener at Ibrox.

Yet it is Pellegrini that is the most important figure of all. A man of stature, a coach of standards and a boss of success, the Chilean is a statesmanlike presence within the Spanish game. If Rangers are to overcome Betis, Michael Beale will have to get the better of the tactician that will stand just a few feet away from him on the touchline amid a sea of colour and a cauldron of noise.

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Pellegrini has cup wins in his homeland and league titles in Ecuador, Argentina and England on a curriculum vitae that stretches back more than three decades. He established himself in South America, but it is in Spain where he has defied the odds and his work at the Estadio Benito Villamarín has followed a similar pattern as his most notable successes as he has improved the fortunes of Betis through his coaching and his man management.

“He has done an excellent job,” Alex Pareja Rodriguez, a broadcaster and journalist that covers La Liga for ESPN, told The Rangers Review. “He is the perfect manager for teams like this in La Liga, teams that are notable and that want to get to the next level.

“He did the same with Villarreal and took them to the Champions League semi-final against Arsenal in 2006. He did the same with Malaga ten years ago when they reached the quarter-final of the Champions League and lost to Borussia Dortmund.

Rangers Review: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini holds the Premier League Trophy during the Barclays Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

“He is a very well-regarded manager in Spain because of that, because of his ability to take teams to the next level. He failed at Real Madrid and that is a stain on his career, but he is very well regarded here in Spain. He is the foreign manager with the most games in La Liga and he is respected as an institution here. Everyone likes him.

“He is able to squeeze the quality out of players like Isco and Nabil Fekir. Isco had his best football at Malaga under Pellegrini, he was the manager that gave him a chance after being rejected at Valencia by Unai Emery. He is a very well-regarded manager, especially for these kinds of teams that want to improve.”

A one-club man that was a competent defender for Club Universidad de Chile, Pellegrini retired from playing in 1986 and was convinced by his mentor, former Chile national boss Fernando Riera, to move into management rather than the family engineering business, which helped rebuild the coastal town of Algarrobo after an earthquake the previous year that killed 177 people.

His first chosen path was medicine, but he failed the entrance examination to get into university and instead gained his academic grounding in engineering. His love for the game saw him combine his studies at Pontificia Universidad Catolica with training sessions at Universidad de Chile and his degree took eight years to complete rather than six as a consequence.

His formative years in the dugout encompassed stints at Palestino and O’Higgins and his successes in South America earned a move to Villarreal in 2004. Pellegrini has spent the majority of the last two decades in La Liga, outside of a six-year sequence that saw him win the Premier League and two League Cups with Manchester City, move to China and then endure a difficult time in charge of West Ham United.

Being named as manager of Real Madrid in 2009 should have been the pinnacle of Pellegrini's career. He signed Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso but later compared his new band of Galácticos as a collection of guitarists that didn't have a pianist to bring the Bernabeu orchestra together.

Early exits from the Copa del Rey and Champions League preceeded a second place finish in La Liga, despite Real accumulating a then record 96 points. They finished behind Barcelona and Pellegrini was replaced by Jose Mourinho as he went on to rebuild and recover with Malaga.

His appointment as Betis boss three summers ago came in the twilight of his career. Yet Pellegrini – who guided his side to the Copa del Rey the following term - shows no sign of slowing down. A landmark birthday was ruined somewhat by a 5-0 loss to Barcelona at the weekend.

“That is a very good question,” Pareja Rodríguez said when asked what continued to motivate a manager that turned 70 on the day of that defeat. “We were in Spain a year ago with Mark Donaldson covering a few La Liga games and we got the chance to introduce him to Mario Kempes. Mario interviewed him and it was about his passion for the game.

“He doesn’t need the money at this point of his career or his life but it is a love for football. It is about building these kinds of teams. He has managed Manchester City and Real Madrid, these super clubs and super teams.

“But where he really feels comfortable is at a different kind of institution, like Betis, Villarreal or Malaga where he can manage and nurture a team over three, four seasons and see the progress. He has a love for the game and a love for developing offensive minded teams and that is what drives him to keep going.”

Pellegrini has kept calm and carried on in adversity at times since moving to Andalusia. Money worries have never been far from the mind at Betis in recent seasons and one of their most influential operators, Sergio Canales, was sold to Monterrey during the summer as Luiz Felipe moved to Al-Ittihad for £20million. Another integral player, vice-captain Fekir, is sidelined with a knee injury at present and is not expected to feature again for some time.

“Betis, outside of Barcelona, are probably the team with the biggest financial struggles at the minute,” Colin Millar, author of ‘The Frying Pan of Spain: Sevilla v Real Betis: Spain's Hottest Football Rivalry’ told The Rangers Review. “They struggled to register all their new signings. They had to cash in, essentially, on a couple of their better players and their signings have largely been free transfers or loan deals.

“It has been short term measures to combat this. They have lost Canales and they have lost Fekir through injury. Despite that, they have managed to maintain a strong squad and they have recruited within those boundaries. They have recruited well, there are a couple of gambles in there.”

A move for Abde Ezzalzouli was the most expensive one of the window for Pellegrini. There is no doubt what one was the most eye-catching deal, though, as Isco moved across the city.

“It is possession based but it is very technical as well and you can see that with the signings, especially with Isco,” Millar said of the style of Pellegrini’s side. “He is only 30, 31 and he still should have a good bit to go in his career. His career has been quite strange in the last two or three years. He was at Sevilla last season and was a disaster.

“People were asking where he would go next and he went to Betis on a free, and obviously that is quite a big move! It is not something that happens very often but he does have that personal relationship with Pellegrini and in the first couple of matches this season he has been outstanding. He has come in and taken the mantle of Canales.”

Isco will be a pivotal figure at Ibrox. Rangers may have been the Pot One side in the group stage draw but Betis could easily assume the position of favourites for a section that also includes Sparta Prague and Aris Limassol. A win on matchday one would enshrine that status.

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Their city neighbours have dominated this competition in recent seasons but Betis are capable operators at this level themselves. Roma were beaten on the road last term but Manchester United proved too strong over two legs. The season before, the matches against Celtic were thrilling encounters, with the home fixture in particular one that ‘encapsulated’ what Betis are about on the continent for Millar.

The journalist and author pinpoints their defensive vulnerability and a habit of getting ‘swept up’ in the momentum of matches. A 4-2 defeat to Athletic Club, despite being two goals ahead inside ten minutes, earlier this term sums up that particular trait.

“They are that sort of team, you never know exactly what you are going to get,” Millar said. “They like possession, they like to get on the ball and pass it about. But I think if Rangers were to play in a way that their fans want, play aggressively, play on the front foot, get forward quickly, I think that is the sort of style that Betis do struggle a bit with a bit more.

“Looking at the other teams in the group, I think it is a favourable group. I would say Betis and Rangers are the two favourites to get through.

“Rangers do need to play aggressively, play vertically as the Spanish say, and get it moving through the pitch quickly. If they can do that, that will be their best way of getting success against Betis.

“Expect to have periods without the ball. In that sense, they need to be able to hold their shape and then hit them on the counter when there are opportunities.”

Seven points from their first five La Liga outings represents a steady if unspectacular start to the campaign for Betis. Four of those points came from a win and a draw away to Villarreal and at home to Atletico Madrid respectively, while losing to Athletic and Barcelona, who slot in behind Real Madrid at the top of the table, is hardly a cause for concern for Pellegrini.

His injury list at present is, though. A decision over the fitness of Claudio Bravo must be made imminently following Rui Silva’s enforced withdrawal against Barcelona and inexperienced keeper Fran Vieites could be between the sticks at Ibrox.

Marc Bartra and German Pezzella are the only experienced centre-back options and youngster Chadi Riad played against his parent club on Saturday evening. In the aforementioned Isco and the likes of Rodri and Luiz Henrique, Pellegrini has players that could hurt Rangers.

“It is tough for them to repeat the success of past seasons,” Pareja Rodríguez, who is also a UEFA A Licensed coach, said. “Two years ago they won the Copa del Rey against Valencia in a penalty shoot-out and that was so important for Betis, it was their first title since 2005.

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“Managing to qualify for the European competition in three or four successive seasons is success. The problem this season is that I don’t see the squad being as deep as is required to compete properly in La Liga and in Europe. He will have to manage the scarcity of resources and will have to rotate the squad a lot. That means that in Europe he will have to play different players or from the B squad.”

At a club like Betis, success is all relative. That Copa del Rey triumph at the Estadio La Cartuja was savoured, yet the local bragging rights in the city are measured on wins in El Gran Derbi and by the La Liga standings. In that regard, at least, a sixth place finish was notable last term in a season where Sevilla escaped a relegation battle and won the Europa League for a seventh time.

“Look at their results against the top four or five in Spain,” Millar said. “They have a budget that if they are fifth or sixth they are over performing. But that has been their level. When they are playing the likes of Barcelona, Madrid, Athletic, even the games against Sevilla, their record isn’t great in those matches and they haven’t had a lot of wins in the past couple of seasons.

“It shows that they get exposed against teams with better players who are able to exploit their flaws. They are not a team who drop stupid points. They will win the games they are expected to win but they do struggle to elevate their level.”

Seville and Glasgow are intertwined in sporting terms given the experiences that the Old Firm have had in the Spanish city. Like The Dear Green Place, it is an area that is fiercely passionate and patriotic about the game and their clubs. The differences lie in the crossovers between Los Rojiblancos and Los Verdiblanco, between uptown and downtown, and intermarriages result in children having to choose between their parents when it comes to their allegiances.

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Rangers will return to the city of their Europa League final defeat in December and Millar, a native of Northern Ireland, knows what these fixtures mean to the green half of his adopted home.

“No matter how many times they have done it, these are crowds that get up for the European nights,” Millar said. “That is a similarity with Rangers. You have your Old Firm games and the finals, but outside of that it is the nights under the lights that are special.

“It has got that emphasis because these are the games that are different. If you are a club that expect to get to the latter stages every season, it becomes like a normality. But those occasions are still special for Betis and there is a definitely a similarly in terms of passion to Glasgow.”