By 90Min
April 13, 2019

After 90 minutes of chaos at the Ramon Sanchez Pizquan on Saturday night, the natural order was restored. Sevilla own Seville. 


2018 saw the two sides meet three times, Betis winning twice and sharing the spoils in the other game at the Benito Villamarin. They finished above their more illustrious rivals last season, by one place and two points. 

It was this fragile, beautiful thing – the rise of the the underdogs, the team whose motto ('¡Viva el Betis aunque pierda!' – 'Long live Betis, even when they lose!') crystallises their natural state as the 'other' team in the city. 


In the last decade, those two wins in 2018 are Betis' only successes in La Liga over their great rivals. They've been relegated in that time, and come back up, twice. Sevilla have won a Copa del Rey and three Europa Leagues. Sevilla. Own. Seville. 

Last season though, Real Betis were spectacular. 12 months on, they've been a shadow of the swashbuckling side who put La Liga to the sword – maybe a more organised group, but a significantly less fun one. Worsening their overall goal difference from -1 last season to -5 after the derby defeat, they've gone from having about 3.2 goals per game to 2.5. Boooo. 

The difference has been stark, not just in the league table but in the feeling around the team. Watching Los Verdiblancos this season has become a chore rather than a joy – that 4-3 win away at Barcelona back in November aside. Quique Setien has been turned on quickly, with just five wins in 22 games since the turn of the year putting his job under pressure and his ideals in question. 


The 60-year-old is famously prickly, almost evangelical in his footballing beliefs. For him, the ball stays on the floor and is advanced by passing. Aesthetics matter, and teams who don't play 'football' against Betis will get a public evisceration from him. When you're wedded to an ideal and winning, life is good and you're a visionary. When you're wedded to an ideal and losing, you're stubborn; a throwback, standing in the way of your own success. 


The thing dragging Betis backwards down the table and out of Europe probably isn't Setien, though. It's the simple reality of a squad that isn't quite ready being a victim of its own success, being forced to play more games than last season and just straight-up knackering themselves. 

A deep run in the Copa del Rey and a decent stretch in the Europa League have added 14 games to the season which they didn't have to deal with. The Seville derby was Betis' 48th game of the season so far, and they'll be at 54 by the time things are wrapped up in May. Last season, they played 40 games. Total. 


A little bit of struggle might not be the worst thing as the season comes to an end. Europe is only three points out of reach, but form makes that an unlikely goal now. A summer of consolidation and a lack of European football next season? Not the worst thing. 

Activating the buy clause in Giovani Lo Celso's contract will be important, as long as they aren't forced into selling the Argentine straight on with a big offer from elsewhere. A less hectic schedule with one of the most exciting young midfielders in Europe, and Betis might just be a must-watch again when things kick off in August. 

Of course, Sevilla started their season in July and have played 55 games. Sometimes having a bit more money to bulk out the squad is what makes the difference. 

Sevilla ended up beating Betis at their own game. Lightning-fast transition play out from the back, crisp passing, a good cross and an unmissable chance at the end of it. Setien's men looked exhausted, broken, unable to make the most of their chances. Jese was awful. They'll come again. 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)