This was a game where football was the true winner…and Betis technically.
Excuse the facetiousness but surely a certain amount is allowed after coming out on top of a game like that? It had pretty much everything you would want for in a game of football. Completely none stop action from quite literally the 1st minute to the last of the 95 minutes played, and everything else in between. Eight goals between the teams, both hit the frame of the goal, the crowd were on fire and there was a feistiness between the players on the field with plenty of yellow cards, as you would expect from a gran derbi.
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.
Just before the game last Friday I tweeted about how it would be the first of three consecutive Andalucian derbies for Betis and how I spelled a hat-trick.
Of course I meant a hat-trick of victories; starting with Granada, finishing with Málaga and stuffed in the middle with Seville. I did not in my wildest Betis imagination, even taking into account that Betis can be highly erratic and difficult to predict, envisage being 3-0 down to the leagues second worst offensive outfit!
Betis head into one of the biggest fixtures in their calendar in good form. Two wins and a draw out of three. Sevilla head into el derbi not so good form, the opposite in fact: two losses and a draw. As we know from past experience form really doesn’t count for anything. Nada.
The derby is its own beast. It’s passion-filled, furious and frantic. In jornada 16 this season the first encounter finished 0-0 before Sevilla went on to beat us comfortably in the copa del rey. Tomorrow’s battle will take place in Sevilla’s Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán home with those ‘locos de la cabeza’ in green and white occupying a small wedge of the stadium.
The atmosphere will be electric as always with nothing but whole hearted pride and prestige on the table. Including this game, there are four games left in this seasons edition of la liga, but both teams have pretty much accomplished their goals. Betis are safe from the drop and Sevilla are sitting in 7th position, six points clear of Valencia in 8th.
Last time out Betis played fairly well against Las Palmas, beating them 1-0 thanks to a late goal from the unlikely hero of Ricky Van Wolfswinkel. The game should have been finished off earlier but we couldn’t quite find the break through even though Las Palmas were down to 10 men for most of the game. Van Wolfswinkel won’t have done enough to stake a claim in the starting line-up, but Ceballos will almost definitely be there after having one of his most impressive performances of the season. Ceballos set up Van Wolfswinkel for his goal and created a whole load of other chances, something which he just hasn’t done this season. Hopefully this will give him the self-confidence to dictate play tomorrow afternoon.
In terms of squads, Betis bring in two new faces from last weekend: Xavi Torres and Montoya. Not sure why Xavi Torres is in and Jorge Molina is out, but there you go. Sevilla are likely to have top goalscorer Kevin Gameiro back in action after being missing recently. The Frenchman has got 15 goals this season and he’s a key figure for the eternal rivals but Betis have their own formidable frontman with 17 goals this season: Rubén Castro, of course. He’s the joint top Spanish goalscorer alongside Aritz Aduriz and Borja Bastón.
The flames have been well and truly stoked pre-game with Sevilla defender Adil Rami having a few choice words to say on Instagram; saying the game is a pre-season game and that Betis’ future lies in the segunda. Stupid man. He quickly back-tracked on saying “I have maximum respect for Real Betis.” Stop talking out of your arse with an apology you don’t mean. Don’t mind a bit of banter but let’s hope that he well and truly lives to regret his outburst by the end of tomorrow’s game.
Game kicks off at 3pm UK time and 4pm in Spain.
From a football perspective there’s not much to write home about on last night’s derbi match, there wasn’t much played. It was frantic, tense, fast paced yet very stop-start. Chances were few a far between, especially from Betis standpoint, and the game ran out zero apiece.
Brilliant banner: Muy noble, muy leal, invicta y verdiblanca. Ciudad del Betis.
Saying all that it shouldn’t really have been an entertaining affair, but it was. It was terrible ugly, yet still an intriguing match from start to finish. The tune was set after the 3rd minute when Molinero scythed down Tremoulinas on the left flank. Definite yellow card. After that the referee didn’t have his whistle out of his mouth all evening. It seemed to be blowing every minute, contact or no contact. I do think the game, especially in Spain, is almost becoming a non-contact sport.
The day is upon us. The La Liga powers that be have made us what a fair while – jornada 16 – but the wait is now over and another derbi sevillano is here and ready to explode.
The last time the great eternal rivals squared off against each other was back in April 2014 where Betis went down 2-0 at home; it was the same season Betis were relegated to la segunda. The teams played each other four times that season, twice in the Copa del Rey, as will happen this season after the CdR last 16 draw on Friday. However, unlike the results in 2013/14, there’s a real opportunity for los verdiblancos to put one over their city rivals who haven’t looked brilliant this season, especially away.