It’ll be Los Reyes Magos time on Saturday when Real Betis make the 3km trip across town to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán to take on the eternal rivals. The Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, is a day when Spanish children exchange their Christmas gifts, and los verdiblancos fans will be hoping for the greatest gift of all…no, not frankincense, myrrh or gold, but a big fat three points.
I’m not keen to admit but all stats point to a Sevilla win. They’re unbeaten at home this season and have conceded just three in eight games whereas Betis have just two away wins and have conceded an average of two goals a game. Sevilla have also won the last five derbies in all competitions.
The form guide also makes for painful viewing if you’re of the green and white persuasion. If the league was based on the last six games, we’d be floundering in the relegation zone alongside Deportivo and Leganes. Sevilla would be 7th, which is a slip from their current 5th, mainly due to their last three games where there are winless.
Before you race down to the bookies to place a large bet on a Sevilla win, perhaps as a kind of insurance policy for Betis fans, Betis have a joker to play up their sleeve, and that joker is called Rubén Castro Martín.
Ruben Castro returns to Betis
Yes, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer is back from a loan spell in China. Since arriving back in the city on Sunday, RC24 was straight back training with the first team. Despite being a club legend, his inclusion is more than needed with Sergio Leon the only proper recognised striker in the team after the long-term knee injury that Tonny Sanabria picked up in December.
Also sneaking back into the fold is Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutierrez who has been on-loan at SC Internacional in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
On the other side of town there is also a new face to look out for – this one on the sidelines after the shameless sacking of Eduardo Berizzo.
Berizzo, who was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, was disgracefully sacked three days before Christmas. He had successful surgery in November and returned to work in December only to be relieved of his duties a week later “on account of the team’s poor results,” despite the team being 5th in the table and in the last 16 of the Champions League. A cold, shameful act if you ask me.
In Berizzo’s place they have appointed former AC Milan head coach Vincenzo Montella who was sacked by the rossoneri at the end of November and will now face a baptism of fire for his first league game in charge. He will have home advantage of course but here’s hoping that wedge of beticos in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán will have something to cheer about.
The match kicks off at 19:45 GMT/20:45 CET and should definitely not be missed.