Everyone in Seville is talking about this weekend’s derby between Real Betis and Sevilla at the Benito Villamarín and if it has half the drama of Celta Vigo-Barcelona, then those fans will be in for some fun in the Andalusian capital.
Celta came back from 3-0 down to rescue a point with an Iago Aspas goal in the 96th minute of their home game with Barça at Balaídos on Saturday.
The Seville derby is for many, the biggest derby in Spain. For some, it’s even bigger than El Clásico between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Betis manager Manuel Pellegrini spoke about the derby ahead of Sunday’s clash.
“Of course we know that for the fans winning the derby is the most important thing. Beating Sevilla is important, I don’t know if it’s an outstanding debt, but we want to do it.
“It is very important that the stadium is full. We’re playing at home. I know what this derby is like. Hopefully, we can give our fans something to cheer about. Sometimes generating so much excitement increases frustration,” Pellegrini said.
Betis have conceded seven goals and scored none in their last two games. A 3-0 defeat to Atlético Madrid last weekend was followed by a 4-0 thumping to Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League on Thursday.
Playmaker Nabil Fekir was sent off for an altercation during a melee involving several players near the end of the contest. If the France international can return to his earlier season form, Betis will have a chance against Sevilla.
Jesús Navas will be devastated that he is missing the derby for Sevilla after he sustained a thigh injury in the club’s 2-1 defeat to Lille in the Champions League. The club captain is unlikely to play again in 2021.
Sevilla are currently third in the La Liga standings and a win would put them level with current leaders Real Madrid. Real Sociedad, in second, can go one point clear at the top of the table with a win over Osasuna on Sunday evening.
Julen Lopetegui will be hoping his side can beat their neighbours and before the match, he praised Pellegrini for the work he has done at Betis.
“Favourites? Those words don’t exist for coaches. Our opponents have extraordinary players, at a very high level, with a squad that has grown collectively, which is the result of their coach’s hard work. They are going to force us to put in a great shift,” said Lopetegui.
One man who is well used to these derbies is Betis captain Joaquín. The 40-year-old winger admitted after Betis’ defeat in Germany that the La Liga side need to up their game for Sunday.
“We have a very nice game on Sunday and we can’t be like this. We have to be bold and have personality. We have to get back to our way and our style of playing.”