While both the Andalusian capital’s La Liga clubs have forged close links with Mexican football through recent years, November 10’s clash at Betis’ Estadio Benito Villamarin should be the first time in history when an El Tri international lines up on either side.
Guardado was the first of the trio to arrive in the city, having previously played in La Liga for Deportivo La Coruna and Valencia. A winger earlier in his career, the now 33 year old has become a commanding midfield general, using his experience and technique to keep his team flowing. Injuries have affected his 2019/20 campaign so far, but Betis always look better with their experienced leader in the centre of the park.
Lainez joined his fellow countryman at Betis in January 2019, joining from Mexico City’s Club America having impressed for his country at Under 17 and Under 20 level, and already made his international debut aged just 18. Verdiblanco coach Rubi is allowing the skillful and creative wide attacking player to adapt to the demands of top flight Spanish football, with most of his 16 La Liga appearances so far coming as a substitute.
Expert goal-getter Chicharito needed no introduction when he arrived at Sevilla last summer from English club West Ham, having contributed seven goals and seven assists when spending the 2014/15 season on loan at Real Madrid. ‘Hispalense’ coach Julen Lopeteguii has been trying different options up front through the opening stages of 2019/20, and faith in Chicharito was rewarded with a neatly taken first La Liga goal of the season in late October’s 2-0 victory at home to Getafe.
Now 31, Chicharito is Mexico’s leading international scorer with 52 goals in 109 games. National captain Guardado is second in El Tri’s all-time appearances record, with 161 full caps. Lainez has a lot of catching up to do in this, with just four senior games for his country so far. But time is on the talented teenager’s side and he has excellent examples to learn from close at hand.
Guardado can also tell his fellow countrymen all about the unique atmosphere of the Andalusian capital derbi, having two wins and a draw in four appearances in the fixture. His outstanding display during Betis famous 5-3 win in January 2016 is still fondly remembered in one half of the city at least. Lainez and Chicharito are surely eager to experience all this for themselves for the first time.
All three played together for the first time during a friendly international victory against Chile last season. Whatever the result it would be special for Mexico’s honourary Andalusians to all share a pitch during Sunday’s derbi - and a night to remember too for the growing number of both Betis and Sevilla fans back in their home country.