Sevilla vs Real Betis: La Liga's most passionate derby
Betis and Sevilla are preparing to play the derby of the season on 6 January – the most hotly anticipated fixture of the year for the two
The derby between Real Betis and Sevilla FC is undoubtedly one of LaLiga Santander's greatest clashes. The rivalry between these two clubs from the city of Seville means that this derby is much more than just a game of football.
The Seville derby is not just about the 90 minutes out on the turf. It is a duel that lasts all season. As soon as the fixtures come out in July, the two sets of fans take note of the dates and the city awaits the matchdays as the biggest sporting occasions of the year.
Very few matches in the world divide a city the way this derby does. The fourth most populous city in Spain lives and breathes it like no other. The atmosphere does not just permeate the stadium. It is also felt in bars, restaurants, office blocks, out on the street, at schools and universities… because it is a derby for all ages and sexes.
Since the inception of LaLiga Santander, the rivalry between the two sets of fans means that they constantly keep an eye on the ups and downs of the other side in preparation for what, for them is, without doubt, the main event of the year, El Gran Derbi.
It does not matter whether Sevilla's objective is to achieve a place in the upcoming edition of the Champions League or whether Betis are looking to consolidate their position in LaLiga Santander and scale the table season by season as they seek to regain their status of years gone by.
When the Big Derby comes around, the two teams only have one thing on their minds: beating their opponents, making their fans happy and 'ruling supreme' in the picturesque city of Seville – at least until the return fixture in the second half of the season.
The fans are preparing for this match like no other during the season. For Seville and its two football clubs, winning the duel on 6 January will be the ideal way to kick off the New Year. The atmosphere inside and outside the stadium is always electric.
The long-held and never-ending rivalry between these two teams can be felt out on the pitch and across the entire city. And it will not end with the final whistle. It will last all week, all month, all year. When the derby starts, the city grinds to a halt.
Only the game matters. Seville's more than 700,000 inhabitants treat the match like a cup final. The streets are empty. The lucky ones are watching the action from the stands. The rest are glued to the television. But not a single soul in Seville misses either of the two crunch games that await them each year and which divide a city that lives for the big derby.
Before the kick-off
Just two games short of the halfway point, Sevilla are fifth in the table-- only two points shy of Real Madrid in fourth, meaning that they are potentially only one result away from leapfrogging into the places rewarded with Champions League football next season.
Betis, meanwhile, have amassed 21 points and are midway between the relegation zone and the European spots, allowing one of La Liga's legendary teams to breathe easy.
A little history
Sevilla FC was founded in 1890 by a group of British and Spanish businessmen and engineers. It was the first club to be established in the city, followed by their big rivals, Real Betis, in 1907.
The encounters between Seville's two teams have always been marked by a strong rivalry, ever since they first locked horns in 1909. In LaLiga Santander, the two teams have faced each other on a total of 93 occasions, with Sevilla having taken 43 victories to Betis' 28, while the other 22 games ended all square.
Historically, the balance falls in Sevilla's favour, and the same applies in modern times. In the last ten seasons when they have faced each other in LaLiga Santander, El Gran Derbi has ended in 11 victories for Sevilla, 5 draws and 4 wins for Los Verdiblancos.
In those 20 league derbies, Sevilla have scored 34 goals to Betis' 16, making for a total of 50 at a rate of 2.5 goals a game.
In recent seasons, Sevilla have consolidated their position as one of the big clubs in Spanish and European football, winning three of the last four editions of the Europa League. Real Betis, on the other hand, have experienced relegations and promotions in recent decades. They last achieved promotion to LaLiga Santander in the 2014/15 season and have remained one of Spanish football's top flight teams since then.