The Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán lies in wait to host the ‘derbi sevillano’. One of the highlights of the Spanish seasons sees two eternal rivals come head to head in what is Spanish fiercest derby – Sevilla FC - Real Betis Balompié.
Despite this, it has been billed in some sections of the Spanish media as ‘el derbi de los nervios’ – The derby of nerves. This is a reflection of the area of the city where Sevilla’s stadium is, nervión, but more poignantly, the positions both sides find themselves in the league table.
Why the nerves? Well, Real Betis have had an awful run of form of five losses and a draw in the last six games. They now find themselves three points adrift of the rest of the league, with a game in hand. Sevilla are currently seven points ahead of Betis in 12th place. Their form is not something to behold either and can be summed up in one word - inconsistent. This season they have won four, drawn four and lost five. These stats have really increased the pressure on both managers, Unai Emery of Sevilla and Pepe Mel of Betis. Both have to gain some points this Sunday evening.
Despite Betis’ terrible form, the club and fans remain staunchly behind their manager and their section of the ground will be crammed full of green and white.
The last five encounters between the two teams spans over four years, due to Betis’ relegation. Sevilla have won just one, Betis have won two and there has been two draws, the last one being a thrilling 3-3 in the Estadio Benito Villamarín. Sevilla shot into a three nil lead at half time, only to be begged back in the second half through a marvellous Betis comeback.
Due to a squad overhaul in the summer, Sevilla are likely to blood eight new faces to the ‘derbi sevillano’. Both sides have had their injury troubles but it is Sevilla who seem to have faired a little better. Stephane M’Bia has recovered from his injury and is likely to start, as is influential Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic. They are still without the long-term injured Cicinho, who is likely to be back in January.
Betis, on the other hand, have not had much luck this season with injuries. Formidable striker, Rubén Castro, has featured for just a few minutes of the whole season. He has been training this week but then on Tuesday had a new ‘scare’. He has been named in the 23-man squad, but Pepe Mel is leaving his selection until the last minute. New striker Braian Rodríguez is out and Jorge Molina is a doubt, which leaves Betis with one fully fit striker in Chuli. Not great news for a team that has struggled to find the net this season. Los verdiblancos are also without Damién Perquis who is recovering from a broken jaw after a sickening clash of heads against Málaga. Betis have also had a huge influx/outflux of players and they could field as many as 10 players who haven’t played in this encounter before.
There are lots of new faces to this historic derby and both sides have been marred by slow starts in the league but when they step out on the surface at the Ramón Sanchéz Pizjuán, expect fireworks. There always is.