Real Betis and Sevilla to lock horns in mouth-watering derby
These must be a cracking few days to be down in Seville. If we're being honest, any time is a good time to be in the Andalusian capital but, right now, that's surely doubly the case: after all, there's a city derby coming up this evening that has quite a lot of spice to it. After years of Real Betis struggling against a thriving Sevilla, a local rivalry that had for a while been wavering is now back with a vengeance. It had been a little reminiscent of what happened in Madrid - remember that? All those years without Atlético beating Real, to the point that supporters of Los Blancos unfurled THAT banner, reading: "Wanted: worthy opponents for a decent derby". Diego Simeone certainly sorted that out: the battle for supremacy in the capital once again has the kind of edge that football fans had been really starting to miss.
Like Simeone in Madrid, Setién has brought the edge back to the rivalry
At Atlético, it was Simeone; at Betis, it's all down to Quique Setién and his brand of nicely worked football. They put five past Sevilla in their neighbours' own back yard to win an unforgettable clash in early January, have European qualification in the bag, and need just a point to be sure of coming fifth or six, positions which - unlike seventh - don't entail the negotiation of three Europa League qualifying rounds. Sevilla are battling for that seventh spot and require at least a draw to ensure their fate is in their own hands going into the final weekend of the season. Meanwhile, they must win if they are to retain any hope of overtaking Betis. "Coming behind them isn't an option," the since fired Vincenzo Montella declared back in February; Los Verdiblancos' supporters have been enjoying that, it's fair to say.
It's a while since a Seville derby has sparked such eager anticipation
Betis are going well, but are missing their top two keepers, Antonio Adán and Dani Giménez, and have had to promote youth product Pedro López. So far, he's responded well; today, he faces his first major test. Sevilla have a new lease of life under Joaquín Caparrós, who has steered them to two wins out of two since replacing Montella. He has the team feeling much better about itself, thanks to the simple remedy of getting them compact at the back, direct in attack and fighting for every inch. It's been a while since there was so much expectation surrounding a 'derbi sevillano', which on this occasion shares the limelight with its women's-football counterpart: in an astute bit of scheduling by LaLiga chief Javier Tebas, that's on tomorrow. No doubt about it: Seville is the place to be right now.
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