Thursday, 9pm, Live on LaLigaTV and PaddyPower.com
The Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan will remain empty on Thursday night but it can be guaranteed that all eyes will be watching as La Liga sees a return to action with one of the country’s most passionate derbies being contested. What better way to come back from an almost three-month layoff than facing your fiercest rivals – both Sevilla and Betis will see this as the perfect fixture to come back to.
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Before the break, Sevilla firmly held Andalusian bragging rights finding themselves in third place in the table, battling it out for a Champions League spot. Things, however, haven’t particularly easy for Julen Lopetegui during his first season in charge. Despite their league position, questions remain over Lopetegui’s style of play and he has yet to win over the fanbase. Defeat to second-tier side Mirandes in the Copa del Rey back in January led to increasing rumours that his position could be under threat.
Results have been mixed since their domestic cup knock out – six league games have seen two wins, three draws and one defeat. They also disappointed with a 1-1 aggregate draw over two legs against Cluj in the Europa League – advancing on the away goal.
In truth, not many sides have really stood out at the top end of La Liga this season and while there is plenty to like about them, this Sevilla side are still hard to fully get behind.
Nice to see some of Nikos' old team-mates willing to help with the removal. https://t.co/KQyyhFEin8
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) June 9, 2020
The green and white half of Seville find themselves in the mid-table abyss. Betis are infuriatingly inconsistent. If Lopetegui has found himself under pressure at Sevilla, it’s safe to say the same about Rubi in the Betis dugout. Last time out, Betis ran out deserved 2-1 winners over Real Madrid – the six games previous saw them fail to win a single game. This has been their season in a nutshell.
Defensively Betis just haven’t been good enough, with the third-worst defence in the league it’s clear to see where their problems are. Although his side seems to always dig out a win just when they need it, I can’t see the Betis boss being in charge come the start of next season.
There will be plenty of exciting talent on display from both sides on Thursday night. Lucas Ocampos has been Sevilla’s star man this season. The wide man has top-scored so far for Sevilla this campaign with 10 goals. He’s currently dealing with a minor injury but is expected to start.
For Betis, Nabil Fekir has been their standout performer. His signing raised eyebrows in the summer as he had been linked for some time with some of Europe’s biggest sides. When fit and on form he is one of the best in the league and one my favourites to watch.
So there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding this one and how the lack crowd will impact such a high-profile derby. Despite uncertainty around no crowd Sevilla to win looks a fair enough price to me. As mentioned, I think it’s still difficult to get fully behind the five-time Europa League winners and the jury is still out for me. Betis, however, have only managed one win on the road all season and just look too vulnerable at the back.
Saying that, the visitors are more than capable of getting on the scoresheet. They have an array of attacking talent including Canales, Fekir and the thirty-eight-year-old upstart Joaquin. The reverse fixture this season saw Sevilla 2-1 winners in a very competitive game. Betis will feel they should have at least come out with a point and on the xG count were about half an expected goal better off than their rivals.
I’m hoping for plenty of end to end action here and like the look of a repeat Correct Score – Sevilla 2-1 result.
As mentioned previously Nabil Fekir has been a standout performer for Betis this season – scoring seven goals along the way. He has averaged 3.3 shots per game this season and always finds himself in good positions in and around the box. At the prices, I like the look of the Frenchman to have 2+ Shots On Target, a small interest bet here that has a chance to click for as long as he is on the pitch.