Sevilla vs Real Betis: Seville Derby Prediction and Preview
After a suspension that lasted three months, La Liga returns to grace the screens of football fans across the world. The opening fixture itself promises to be a cracker as Sevilla host Real Betis in the 131st edition of the Seville Derby.
With the Bundesliga resuming operations a month ago, La Liga is the second major European league to begin play. Due to lack of intensive training and match-fitness, it will be interesting to see which team will be better placed to get the three points. Lack of fans in the stadium will also make this Seville Derby unique as Sevilla will not be able to count on their raucous fans.
Form before league suspension
Both Seville based clubs had gone up against the Madrid clubs in La Liga before it was suspended. Julen Lopetegui led Sevilla played out a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. Real Betis meanwhile, scalped Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid with a 2-1 win at Estadio Benito Villamarin.
In the table, Los Nervionenses are way ahead of their local rivals. Sevilla sit at third place with 47 points while Los Verdiblancos are placed 12th with 33 points. Sevilla have won 13 games, drawn eight and lost six in 27 and Real Betis have won eight, drawn nine and lost 10 in 27 league games.
The home side has amassed two wins, two draws and one loss in its last five La Liga matches. The loss came against Celta Vigo on the road.
Real Betis have only managed to win once in their last five La Liga games. Los Verdiblancos have lost two and drawn two in that span. They have, however, given strong performances against big sides. Rubi’s men took FC Barcelona to the edge, losing 2-3 at the end. They did get the better of Real Madrid before the league was suspended.
Sevilla have been strong at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, losing only twice in 13 league games (W6, D5, L2) at the venue.
Real Betis’ away form has been mediocre. Rubi’s men have won once and lost six in 12 games on the road (W1, D5, L6).
The Seville Derby has been hotly contested in the last few seasons.
Sevilla have been victorious in three of the last six editions of the Seville Derby. Real Betis have won the fixture twice in that time span with a 2-2 draw in May 2018 being the only time when both sides shared points.
In the reverse fixture this season at Estadio Benito Villaramin, Sevilla eked out a 2-1 win over their local rivals.
Loren Moron cancelled out Lucas Ocampos’ opener but Luuk de Jong came to the rescue for Lopetegui’s side. The Dutchman found the net after receiving an expertly crafted assist from Ever Banega.
Los Nervionenses were also victorious in the final Seville Derby of the 2018-19 season as they beat their rivals, 3-2.
Nemanja Gudelj will be missing in action for Sevilla as he will have to sit out of this game due to accumulation of too many yellow cards.
Oliver Torres and Fernando Reges return for Lopetegui’s side after serving suspensions. The latter is expected to anchor the midfield for this Seville Derby.
Ocampos, Sevilla’s top scorer this season has some minor adductor issues but is slated to start on the left wing.
For Real Betis, the only missing player will be Juanmi. The Spanish attacking midfielder has been sidelined due to a foot injury and has missed 30 games for Real Betis this season.
Lucas Ocampos vs Sidnei
Argentine forward Ocampos’ 10 goals and two assists have spearheaded Sevilla’s push for third place this season.
Ocampos likes to cut inside and torment defenses with his dribbling. His attacking awareness also plays a factor as the Argentine has shown his ability to finish off attacking moves.
The trident of Ocampos, de Jong and Suso are likely to cause problems for Real Betis’ defense. Sidnei and defensive partner Marc Bartra cannot afford to relinquish too much space to Ocampos who scored against Real Betis in the reverse fixture.
While Bartra has been a mainstay for Real Betis, Sidnei has only featured in nine games this season. The Brazilian defender’s lack of match-fitness can tilt the advantage towards Ocampos and Sevilla.
Fernando Reges vs Nabil Fekir
Injuries might have stunted Nabil Fekir’s development into an elite attacking player but he’s been in fine form for Real Betis this season.
His attacking contribution (seven goals and two assists) has been one of the bright spots for Betis in a disappointing campaign. The Frenchman has scored in both games against league leaders FC Barcelona this season so Rubi will be relying on him to come up big in the Seville Derby.
Fekir’s tendency to drift in to the center and then link with attackers will have to be dealt by Reges. The former Manchester City defensive midfielder is an adept reader and can easily outmatch Fekir in a physical battle. He will, however, have to keep his guard up as Fekir’s bursts help him lose is marker in an instant.
The Seville Derby will serve as a great way to restart La Liga. Calling the game, however, is a tough task considering the lack of knowledge around teams’ match-fitness.
The Bundesliga’s restart week saw some teams run roughshod over opponents who clearly looked under-trained (The Revierderby is the best example).
Even if tonight’s Seville Derby was taking place without any league suspension, it would have been tough to predict as both sides have competed strongly against each other in recent seasons.
Sevilla do have a slight edge for the game tonight as they have been more consistent in the season and possess a better XI. Both teams will find the net though as has been the case in all but one of their last six meetings.
Predicted scoreline: Sevilla 2-1 Real Betis