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Preview: Sevilla and Betis go head to head in the derby with Europe on the line

Just six points separate the Andalusian giants as they prepare to clash in the Seville city derby

Ahram Online , Friday 12 Apr 2019

It’s not known as ‘El Gran Derbi’ for nothing. There is so much to be excited about as this Saturday’s derby between Sevilla and Real Betis at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán approaches. There’s the fact that their women’s teams will meet at the Estadio Benito Villamarín earlier in the afternoon to kick off the derby festivities.

There’s the fact that this fixture produced eight goals last season in a historic 5-3 Real Betis win. There’s the fact that this match will have a huge bearing on this season’s European qualification spots.

With Sevilla currently in fifth place on 49 points and Real Betis in ninth place on 43 points, these two teams are very much in the running for continental qualification. Sevilla even have their sights set on a top four finish and on Champions League football, so Los Béticos would love nothing more than to halt their charge.

Who’s in better form?

Both these teams come into the derby on the back of victories, with Sevilla having defeated Real Valladolid 2-0 on the road last Sunday and al Betis having edged Villarreal 2-1 at home that same day.

Sevilla’s form has improved since replacing former boss Pablo Machin with club icon Joaquin Caparrós in mid-March. The veteran coach has overseen four LaLiga Santander matches since taking over and has won three of them, losing only a closely-fought battle with Valencia.

As for Real Betis, last weekend’s victory was their first in four matches. They’ve slipped down the standings in recent weeks but their away form has remained solid and they’ve collected seven points from their past four trips.

Which players are performing well?

For Sevilla, they’ve found an unlikely goalscoring hero in Roque Mesa. While the Canary Islands native wasn’t always a starter under Machín, he has started the past two matches in midfield under Caparrós and scored the opening goal on both occasions. Wide man Jesús Navas and centre-forward Wissam Ben Yedder are also putting together very good seasons, as is Pablo Sarabia, the midfielder who has 21 goals and 14 assists across all competitions in 2018/19.

Sarabia is, in fact, the only player aside from Lionel Messi to have racked up double digits in both goals and assists this season.

Real Betis’ man of the moment is Giovani Lo Celso, the man who netted both of their goals in last weekend’s victory. The Argentine now has 14 goals and four assists this season and is the danger man for Los Verdiblancos as he gets forward from midfield to support the centre-forward. At the other end of the pitch, Real Betis have the ever-reliable Marc Bartra leading their back three and Pau López – who saved a penalty on the previous matchday – between the posts.

Are there any significant absences?

There won’t be many players missing for this derby match as neither club has anybody suspended. There are a few injuries, though.

A knee injury should keep Sevilla centre-back Maximilian Wöber on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, while they’ll also be hoping that starting goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík and
winger Nolito can return from injuries of their own.

Real Betis, meanwhile, could be without their starting right-wing-back Francis Guerrero for another week, while they’ll also be sweating on the fitness of Spanish international midfielder Sergio Canales after he suffered a knock to his ankle last time out.

*This content is provided by La Liga

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