The match between local rivals Real Betis and Sevilla is regarded as one of the most entertaining derbies in world football, and I have absolutely no doubts we are in for a great game of football at Estadio Benito Villamarin. The two teams are just three points apart in the La Liga standings, so this is going to be a very close call.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Real Betis showed La Liga fans what they have been missing quickly upon their return to the top flight, with the four-match winning run at the start of the league campaign acting as a real statement of club’s ambitions. However, the run of nine defeats in next ten games that ensued had the fans worried that los Verdeblancos could enter the difficult relegation struggle, but once again Pepe Mel’s side did well to defy the odds. Straight wins over Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Sporting Gijon helped the players restore the lost confidence, so nobody was surprised to see Betis give Barcelona a real run for their money in the 4:2 defeat at Camp Nou. Boosted by some scintillating displays of late, the hosts will fancy their chances against bitter rivals Sevilla, and I expect Betis to attack their opponents from the off. Having scored exactly two goals in every one of their last four games, the hosts can be trusted to do continue the impressive run.
Jose Alberto Canas and Jefferson Montero are available after recovering from minor knocks, whereas Nelson Tomar and Alejandro Pozuelo have also resumed full training.
Sevilla in problems
Just like their fierce rivals, Sevilla had a bright start to the season, with the nine-match unbeaten run at the start of the La Liga campaign hinting that los Rojiblancos were again one of the most likely candidates for the top 4 finish. Nevertheless, Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side have since suffered a big dip in form, and have slipped to seventh place in the standings following the poor run of results. Sevilla managed to end the three-match losing run as they were held to a goalless draw at home by Espanyol, but unless the team start winning soon, their Champions League will go up in smoke. This is exactly why I expect the visitors to adopt attacking approach against Betis, especially as the win over the bitter rivals can be just the boost they need to turn this season around. However, having won just one away game this season, los Rojiblancos may have to work hard for the win at Benito Villamarin.
Martin Caceres should return after recovering from a bout of flu, but Manu Del Moral remains doubtful. Emiliano Armenteros and Diego Perotti are definitely out.
Real Betis have been scoring goals for fun of late, and with the hosts expected to attack their opponents from the off, the trend looks likely to continue. Sevilla desperately need a win on order to kick-start their season, so everything suggests we could see goals galore at Benito Villamarin.
Our prediction: Over 2.5 goals
Odds: 2.15 (23/20)