Spain’s hottest derby is around the corner, with Real Betis and Sevilla to meet each other at the Estadio Benito Villamarín on Sunday November 10th for the latest edition of this battle for supremacy in the Andalusian capital. When the captains shake hands just before the 21:00 CET kick-off, it’ll be an encounter between two symbols for their clubs as Real Betis’ Joaquín and Sevilla’s Jesús Navas are already legends for their respective institutions.
They’ve already broken so many records at their clubs. For example, Joaquín made his 307th top-flight appearance for Real Betis in September to hit the mark for the most La Liga outings for the Green and Whites, while Jesús Navas reached the long-standing record of 171 victories for the Red and Whites in the top division in October.
These two players are all-time icons as they’ve achieved so much for their teams. They represent the values of their respective clubs and their returns to Spanish football, in 2015 for Joaquín and in 2017 for Navas, have been a welcome addition to one of the most anticipated fixtures in La Liga , El Gran Derbi – or The Grand Derby, in English.
This will actually be just the seventh time they’ll meet in the Seville derby, but their derby rivalry dates all the way back to 2005. The two Spaniards first took each other on in this fixture in the 35th round of the 2004/05 season, a match with huge implications for European qualification as Real Betis’ 1-0 victory ultimately earned them Champions League qualification as they finished fourth, two points ahead of sixth-placed Sevilla.
There hasn’t been a single draw yet in the derbies when these two players have both been involved. Joaquín has been on the winning side four times and headed in the winner for a 1-0 win in the first meeting of last season, while Navas has tasted derby day glory twice against Joaquín, including in the most recent edition of this match-up as Sevilla won 3-2 in April.
This is 38-year-old Joaquín’s 20th season in professional football and 33-year-old Navas’ 17th. They’ve been starring in La Liga for so long that Joaquín actually faced current Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui once in 2001 when the tactician was a goalkeeper for Rayo Vallecano, while Navas made his Sevilla debut before his club had ever won a European trophy. They now have six of them.
These two players have been stewards of their clubs for almost two decades. Even though they both spent some time at other clubs and abroad, they have always remained supporters of their teams and have always been tuning into El Gran Derbi, even if from a sofa in Florence or Manchester. Now they’re both back and in the thick of it. On November 10th, they’ll be as determined to win as each of the fans in stands, even if they’re on the pitch.