The derby, one of the few matches of the penultimate weekend with anything riding on it, didn’t disappoint
Betis’s bus made its way through a thick cloud of green smoke, while Sevilla’s passed the police cordon and headed down the last, short stretch of empty street, turning off palm tree avenue to the Benito Villamarín. It was momentarily quiet outside, just a few stall holders standing in the sunshine, but inside the bus was different. On the right, a window had been smashed – not there, but four kilometres away, where a Sevilla fan had waved his team off a little over-enthusiastically – and sitting right alongside it was the manager Joaquín Caparrós, exposed and in his element. Someone had put the club anthem on and he was belting it out like a man possessed, the 62-year-old shaking his fists as he sang. In the rows behind, the players banged on the glass. “We’re Sevilla and playing Betis is different,” he said.
It is, he knows, different to anything, anywhere – and he’s had a gun pulled on him in the dressing room. Born in Seville and once the Andalucían ‘national’ manager, he had unexpectedly been given another go – 18 years after his first derby, 13 after his last, and five months after a three-decade long coaching career had come to an end. And the man who had lifted Sevilla from the second división and helped lay the foundations for the best years of their lives, couldn’t be happier.