Seville may well be Europe’s hottest city. Andalusia’s capital has temperatures well into double figures, even in mid-winter. In summer, people have to flee the city more and more often. Climate change isn’t particularly desirable here, with temperatures of forty degrees and over occurring in July. This kind of heatwave comes along twice a year anyway, during El gran Dderbi!
Estadio Benito Villamarín and Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán
Benito Villamarín is a bastion in the southern part of the city. As is the case with, for example, Real Madrid, this ground is named after a former Betis president. The stadium, used as a venue for the 1982 World Cup, has been redeveloped several times, lending it a modern look and space to host sixty thousand béticos. On derby day, pretty much all the seats will be taken. If they’re still empty, you will see a big mosaic of a celebrating footballer. Don’t worry if you don’t spot which club legend it is meant to depict, as there is nobody in particular who it is dedicated to. The green fortress has very few seats covered by a roof, and why would it? The supporters have a reputation as one of the fiercest bunches in Spain and live by the mantra ‘Viva er Betis, manqué pierda!’ – Long live Betis, even if they lose!
Betis may play their home games within the city limits, but the area surrounding the ground is not the most interesting bit of it. Pre-match, there are a few bars and restaurants to get yourself ready for ninety minutes of action, but you are probably better off preparing in Seville’s city centre. If you insist on eating in the stadium’s vicinity, you should head to Cerveceria Huarcán. Order a beer and, as good Andalusian tradition demands, you will get a small bite to eat with your drink. For Sevilla’s ground, things are easier as the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán is right next to the city’s bustling centre.
They took their neighbours’ idea: the red and white team in Seville also have their ground named after a former chairman. The red-seated colossus, too, is exposed to the weather conditions almost everywhere, so spectators here have to sometimes take their seats in the blistering southern Spanish sunshine. No wonder kick-offs here tend to be late, when the Spanish FA still allowed them too, kick-offs would regularly be arranged as late as 11pm. This stadium, too, was used for the ’82 World Cup. Built in the fifties, it can host just over forty thousand people and is a true fortress on the European front. Only a handful of clubs have won a European away game at this ground.
Betis are named after a river. The Romans gave the Guadalquivir river, which flows through Seville, the considerably less complicated name of Beatis. The full name for the side that was found in 1907 is Real Betis Balompié. That last word does not actually exist but is a liberal translation in Spanish for the anglicized word Fútbol, which is what Sevilla uses in their name. The students who found this club did not care much for those English influences, that’s why. Betis hit it off better with the Scots, the green and white colours have appeared thanks to Celtic. The club won one La Liga title, in 1935. Even if successes have been few and far between, since 2000, Betis won two Segunda Divisions and one Copa del Rey, the supporters have not turned their backs on Betis yet.
What’s more, even if Sevilla has made a big name for themselves on the continental stage by winning a whole range of European trophies, Betis draw a higher attendance. After a few yo-yo years, the club finally seems to be settled back into La Liga. They won’t be champions of Spain in a hurry, there aren’t many European games either, but twice a year they get the chance to earn the city bragging rights. That’s worth something, too.
The city’s oldest and most well-known side, by winning an impressive five Europa League titles between 2006 and 2016. Don’t be fooled however, this has not always been a big club. Far from it. In the last ten, fifteen years, the club has celebrated pretty much every highlight in their history. Just like Betis, the red and whites have just one league title to their name. It’s ancient too, ever fewer people are able to tell the story of 1946’s title winners. Since then, it was not always obvious for Sevilla to be in the top flight. In some years, there was no derby, and as recent as 2001, one was played in the Segunda Division. The rise of Sevilla is pretty incredible.
The big advantage of visiting a Sevilla game is not having to leave the old town. You can grab a travel guide and visit every recommended spot, as the stadium is within walking distance from the heart of the city, where the Moorish part is still evident and clear for all to see. As for food and drink, you have more options available than you could wish to think of. Where museums, cathedrals, and parks are concerned, it’s pretty much the same story. If you have seen and eaten enough, just walk to the stadium and join forty thousand other folks to sing your heart out for Sevilla. That they are just about unable to match their neighbours for numbers does not mean that they can’t reach their level of passion either. Far from it!
Forget El Clásico. Of course, to go see FC Barcelona and Real Madrid battle it out is to see a match of higher quality, and naturally, you need to go see Lionel Messi before he kicks the bucket in a few years. But purely for the match experience, that is not the place to be, at a football match resembling Disneyland. Bart Simpson suits in Real kits and tourists flashing camera if Real score in Camp Nou. You’ll see none of that in Seville. Sevilla’s club anthem is one of the most unique, authentic experience you will get at the top end of European football. The atmosphere at Betis is every bit as good, by the way. For the neutral, it is not really relevant in which of the two grounds you go and see the derby.
This is the biggest inner-city derby in Spain, maybe the biggest game. Real v Atletico is good fun, but the game isn’t that big a deal for the Real faithful. The Clasico? All good and well, but both clubs are hours apart. Losing supporters won’t have to worry about being bullied by the entire city. They do here. The Béticos, historically spoken the more working-class fanbase, will put about as much fire as they can. Particularly now Sevilla escaped from their shadows and gained European stardom, this derby is one on a knife-edge. This is one you really need to take in!