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Friday, April 12, 2013
Managers downplay Seville derby

Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Opposing coaches Pepe Mel of Real Betis and Unai Emery of Sevilla have both tried to play down the emotional side of Friday night's Seville city derby.

With memories of Sevilla's thumping 5-1 success in November's most recent meeting still fresh around the city, the game at the Estadio Benito Villamarin is expected to be a 50,000 sell-out, and local police have named it a 'high risk' event.

Sevilla have had the upper hand in the city in recent seasons, however Betis' resurgence after getting rid of former owner Manuel Ruiz de Lopera now contrasts strikingly with Sevilla's ongoing financial issues, which led to its president Jose Maria del Nido admitting this week that players could leave this summer.

Mel told reporters on Thursday that it was important to remember that potential European qualification, as well as local pride, was at stake in the game between Betis [currently 7th in the table] and Sevilla [10th].

"Obviously when people keep talking about the 5-1 it is difficult to avoid it," he said. "But for us it is important not to forget that we have six more points in the table. No betico would accept a draw [in advance]. Another thing will be how the game goes."

Former verdiblanco striker Mel, who has taken his squad out of the city to prepare at a remote hotel, admitted he had overdone his preparation for November's game.

"We wanted to give too many emotional message in the first game, and we were overwhelmed," he said. "Too much of that makes you too tense."

Emery also tried to play down emotion around the game, which has seen some unsavoury incidents involving both sets of fans in recent years.

"It is a game with an exaggerated aspect, when it comes to feelings, heart and emotions," the Basque coach said at his pre-game press conference. "You play one game inside, and another outside, for the fans. The heart is important, but you need to play football to win."

The former Valencia boss suggested that in 17 goal top-scorer Alvaro Negredo, newly married playmaker Ivan Rakitic and rested winger Jesus Navas Sevilla had the players to do that.

"Negredo is giving a lot to the team at the moment, he is very focused on achieving both individual and team targets," Emery said. "We gave Rakitic the day off yesterday so he could get married, but we spoke and he will celebrate it later. Jesus Navas was bored last week [when he was suspended] but he has been playing very well."




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