Both from the city of Seville, each club are important in their own right and fervently well-supported. After similar histories, Sevilla’s intelligent modernisation has seen them pull away from their neighbours in the 20th Century, winning a remarkable six Europa League titles while Betis proved consistently inconsistent.
Saturday afternoon’s clash, La Liga‘s first round of 2020, sees Betis host Sevilla at the Benito Villamarin. Betis currently sit tenth, significantly closer to the bottom than to the top. Sevilla, building slowly but steadily throughout the season, are in the top four, level on points with the much-vaunted Real Sociedad.
For Ivan Rakitic, Sevilla’s experienced midfielder, the match will be extra special. The Croatian rejoined Sevilla this past summer after six years at Barcelona, and holds the city of Seville in deep affection. Not only is it where he met his wife, but it’s also the accent with which he speaks his perfect Spanish.
“I know that the biggest game in the world is maybe El Clasico but El Gran Derbi is truly something special too,” Rakitic, speaking at an event for LiveScore, said. “To feel the importance of the derby you have to be here in the city of Seville.
“There is a special feeling between the people here so hopefully we can give a good performance against Betis in this big game on the second of January. It’s a hard time for everyone to play the derby match without any fans. It’s not easy because of how special this game is for them, but we will try to give our best to win this game and make sure all Sevilla fans are happy.
“I think that they have a lot of amazing players, an amazing coach and an amazing goalkeeper. We need to be 100% ready. They have some amazing guys in their team so we know it will be a really hard game which we need to be ready for 100%. We will need a big performance if we want to beat Betis.
“[The league position] doesn’t matter, this is clear. This is only one game and is a different game to any that has come before. The position in the table and the form of the teams going into the game does not matter. You have to be ready for this game and then to give your best so that you can win the derby.”
Ivan Rakitic was speaking at an event for LiveScore, Official Global Scoring Partner of LaLiga Santander. LiveScore’s iOS and Android app is available to download now: www.livescore.com/mobile