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Joaquin the hero as Real Betis win El Gran Derbi

Joaquin the hero as Real Betis win El Gran Derbi

In what many have now come to accept as the biggest derby in Spanish football, El Gran Derbi lived up to expectation. It was a home side hero in the form of the never-aging Joaquin that decided the result of the game. In what was a heated affair, in terms of temperature and feistiness, Real Betis won their first home derby in ten years.

In the opening stages of El Gran Derbi, Sevilla were happy to allow Real Betis have control of the ball. This caused the away side a lot of problems in moments; particularly when Sergio Canales found space around the edge of the box. On top of this, when the ball was played out wide to Christian Tello on the right hand side, he was causing Sevilla’s defence a lot of problems. His direct dribbling created space and found his way passed Guilherme Arana on a number of occasions but was unable to either find a teammate or get a successful shot beyond Tomas Vaclik in goal.

On the 14th minute, William Carvalho played a through ball from deep to Loren Moron. The Betis graduate was offside on this occasion but it was an example of the problems Betis could cause Sevilla once given space in midfield.

Sevilla made a clear effort to stifle this space available to the home side. With Sevilla lining up in a 4-3-3 formation, they pressed their three attacking players up against Betis’ three centre backs. This forced them to play a lot of long balls up to Loren Moron. Simon Kjaer dealt quite well with such balls overall and caught Moron offside on a number of situations.

Real Betis picked up a lot of ‘second’ balls from such efforts and gained territorial possession easily from their 22 ‘long balls’ in the opening 30 minutes.

The first time Pau Lopez was called into action was on the 18th minute where Franco Vazquez’ curled effort from the edge of the box warranted a save from the recently called-up Spanish goalkeeper. Before this, Real Betis dominated play.

A water break after 30 minutes was not just needed due to temperatures hitting 30 degrees Celsius at 9:30pm local time, it was quite heated in terms of aggression also … as expected. Roque Mesa and William Carvalho in particular got to know eachother more intimately.

After the break, Sergio Canales found the back of the next, but was judged to be offside after the referee consulted with VAR. Similar to the ball Carvalho played to Moron earlier in the game, Guardado was afforded some space in the centre of midfield. Canales made a run behind the Sevilla defence and hit the back of the net. Again, a clear sign of the threat at hand once space is allowed.

One of the occasions where a long ball was played to Loren Moron, he shrugged off Kjaer. After controlling the ball in the box, he laid it off to Tello, but Kjaer was on hand to deflect the ball just wide of the post. An unexpected tactic that turned out to work in favour of Quique Setien’s side on a number of situations, Real Betis’ total of 60 long balls (43% success rate) were not entirely due to Sevilla pressing up.

It was clear at times that William Carvalho and less so, Andres Guardado were not showing for the ball for their centre backs. Marc Bartra and Aissa Mandi were vividly calling Carvalho in particular to drop in more to support playing the ball out.

Not to spend too much time on having a go at Carvalho, but it is easy to see why Lorenzo Serra Ferrer and Quique Setien wanted to get someone of Giovani Lo Celso’s ilk into the club. One impressive trait Fabian Ruiz possessed was the speed at which he received and passed the ball. For Real Betis, unfortunately the same cannot be said of Carvalho. Max Allegri once said Miralem Pjanic was like a washing machine; you give him the ball dirty and it comes out clean. Carvalho can do this too, but the speed of this process is an issue for Real Betis. He slowed their game down a lot and this allowed Sevilla an extra few seconds to get into position thus, making the creation of clear chances all the more difficult.

Ever Banega took up an unusual style of taking corners, by drilling the ball across the box. Gabriel Mercado should have scored from one of this situations, but was only able to head the ball over the bar.

Roque Mesa really let his team down in this game. He was unnecessarily getting involved in arguments with Betis players and the referee throughout the game. He eventually saw a red card on the 65th minute. After Pau Lopez caught a header on goal by Arana, Mesa tried to obstruct Lopez from playing the ball out fast. Lopez in the process almost jumped on Mesa and appeared to catch him with an elbow. Instead of booking Lopez, the referee gave Sevilla’s number seven his second yellow card and the away side were reduced to 10 men for the final 25 minutes.

There was another water break on 76 minutes and this gave Setien the opportunity to rally his side … even though it appeared Joaquin was the coach as he fired them up.

Only four minutes later, one of the clubs shareholders – Joaquin – put the ball in the back of the net in front of 56,400 at the Benito Villamarin.

After a period of sustained attacking threat, Aissa Mandi found the ball on the right hand side of the box. The Algerian delivered an inch perfect cross toward the back post to an on-rushing Joaquin against the five foot five inches of Jesus Navas. Real Betis 1-0 Sevilla

Marc Bartra was forced off with injury in what appeared to be cramp in the hamstring, which he went down with a few minutes earlier.

Quincy Promes came on for Sevilla and show glimpses of why they paid €25 million for the Dutch international. He and Sarabia should be more than sufficient in providing width for the Andalucian side for the remainder of the season.

Benjamin Button … I mean Joaquin nearly scored a second in injury time after picking up the ball from a Toni Sanabria flick on. The 37 year old’s shot ended up just the wrong side of the post however.

Mercado left the pitch via stretcher in agony five minutes into added time and forced Sevilla to end the game with nine men. It appeared that the issue was his arm, which seemed to get trapped awkwardly in a challenge.

The celebrations afterwards resembled a cup winning game. Considering Real Betis were only picking up their first win of the season here – against their biggest rivals – it’s understandable. On top of this, it was their first home derby win in ten years and also their first time scoring this season. Both a relief and cause for celebration for the home side.

After the game, Joaquin (naturally) had a few words to share on scoring and his relationship with Real Betis’ supporters:

“Scoring in a derby is the dream of every Betis fan … I am privileged to be with this group of fans, to be a Betico, to have grown up here and to feel the importance of these games. The love, the respect, the admiration they have for me, I always say it, I will leave football happy because these people have given me everything.”