Hold your breaths!! It is time for the first Seville derby of the season. Real Betis host Sevilla in the last fixture of Matchday 13 of LaLiga Santander. Sevilla currently sits at 3rd place with 24 points and could potentially go top of the table with a win. Elsewhere, Los Verdiblancos find themselves at the 5th spot and would be looking to break into top-4 and pose a challenge for Champions League qualification.
Why should you be watching?
The El Gran Derby has always been delivered. The games between the two teams are nail-biter more often than not. Both sides like to play possession-based football and build from the back. They don’t like to depend on long balls but rather play possession football and attack through the wings. Since the season has just started, a loss might not affect both teams very much. But given the stature of the derby and how tight the matches usually are, both the teams would give it all to get over the line and claim all 3 points. It is an absolute treat to watch from a neutral perspective and the game will be full of pace from both ends.
Real Betis come into this fixture on the back of consecutive defeats against Atletico Madrid in the league and Leverkusen in the Europa League. They were outclassed on both occasions failing to score in any of them. There will be concerns considering their form. But delivering under pressure is what Manuel Pellegrini is widely known for. When going gets tough, this Betis side gets going. Even after the recent dip in their form, one can not underestimate this side. In the 12 games so far this season, the Green-and-White have won 6 of them, drawing 3 and losing 3 in the process.
They are the 2nd highest goal-scoring side in the league just behind Real Madrid. Adding to this, the hosts have been unbeaten in their last 6 games at home and just lost once since the start of the season. If they are able to sort out their defensive fragilities, they could emerge out as serious contenders for Champions League spots. A win before the international break will surely boost their confidence.
Real Betis’ Current Form (Last 5 games) [La-Liga] – LWWWL
The Rojiblancos have been two completely different sides in La Liga and Champions League. In the Spanish league, they comfortably sit at 3rd with 7 games, 3 draws, and 1 defeat from 11 games. However, in CL they have drawn 3 of the 4 games and lost 1 at the hands of Lille in their last game. Nevertheless, it is a great opportunity for them to potentially go top of the league with a win against Real Betis. Julen Lopetegui has revolutionized this Sevilla team since taking charge in June 2019.
Sevilla is the strongest defensive side in the league and has conceded just 7 goals managing 6 clean sheets in the process. Moreover, the visitors are unbeaten on the road in all competitions since the start of the season. Coincidentally, they are also tied with Betis at 19 goals this season. Their league form has been really impressive and as such the side would not settle for anything but a victory here.
A few changes are bound to happen to the side that faced Leverkusen mid-week. Claudio Bravo will continue in the goal. We might see the return of German Pezzella alongside Victor Ruiz forming the center-back partnership. Martin Montoya is also expected to start at right-back with Miranda continuing at left-back. The midfield will see the return of Andres Guardado with Carvalho occupying the holding midfielder position. Juanmi, Fekir, and Joaquin will play behind lone striker Borja Iglesias. Canales and Ruibal will start on the bench. However, they may be required in the 2nd half.
Having played midweek, Julen Lopetegui is expected to make some changes. Bono, as usual, will start between the sticks. There are no changes expected in the backline with Jesus Navas, Jules Kounde, Diego Carlos, and Marcus Acuna starting. Having not featured midweek, Rakitic is expected to make a return to starting 11 alongside Fernando. Erik Lamela was influential coming off the bench against Lille and is expected to get the nod ahead of Oliver. Youssef En-Nesyri is also expected to replace Rafa Mir as the striker upfront alongside Suso and Lucas Ocampos.
Head to Head
The H2H record highly favors the away team. Out of 44 meetings between them so far, Sevilla has won 22 of them whereas Betis have managed to win just 7. In the closely fought encounter between the two sides, the red-and-whites managed to grind a 1-0 victory over the Betis side.
Players to Watch Out For
The French international has not hit his form this season yet. He has managed to score just 1 goal this season in 11 appearances. But his impact on the game has not been always about numbers. He is known to carry the ball forward and win free kicks in good positions for the team. His footwork is exceptionally when on the ball and combined with the pace he has, he is a threat always. He will be looking to improve his stats and help the team secure all 3 points.
The leading goal-scorer for the home team will once again look to get his name on the score sheet. Having 6 goals and 1 assist in 13 matches across all competitions, it is safe to say that he has been the main man for the Betis side. He is an expert in creating spaces on the flanks for the wing-backs to attack. Technically very skilled, he will once again be pivotal to the team’s success.
The 6’1” tall center forward is always a threat up front. He has been in decent form this season. 5 goals and 1 assist in 16 appearances might not seem very good but are fairly respectable considering he has come from the bench a few times. His off-the-ball movement and running into free spaces beating the offside trap might come in handy against Sevilla.
The Croatian is an important player for the away team. Widely known for his close control, he will once again be tasked with stopping the attacks of the opposition. He also contributes to the attacking more often than not. He has scored 2 goals in the Champions League and assisted one in the domestic competition. Rakitic will be looking to connect with the forward line and play over-the-top balls for En-Nesyri to attack.
The forward has been in a formidable form this season. He has bagged 3 goals and 1 assist in the league so far. He times his runs perfectly on most occasions and can drift into wide spaces also. His speed can be a threat against any opposition too. He will be looking to add more to his tally and help the visitors to come away with a victory.
Signed from Spurs this season, the Argentine has repaid his faith shown by the management in him. He is the top scorer for the side with 4 goals so far. One of the best on the side, he has been phenomenal for the team and has delivered every time when needed. Lopetegui will highly depend on him to launch quick counterattacks and provide through balls for the forwarding line.
The matches between the two sides are very closely contested. Both sides play similar football and as such the role of midfielders becomes very crucial. It is simple mathematics. The team whose midfield will dominate more is likely to come out with a positive result. As we move into the international break, both sides will be looking to end on a positive note. It is difficult to predict such matches but we might yet again see a one-goal affair.
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