Real Betis vs Sevilla preview - Emery relishes balancing act



Posted Saturday, April 12, 2014 by PA

Sevilla coach Unai Emery has promised to stay focused for Sunday's local derby with Real Betis, despite the euphoria of beating Porto 4-1 to qualify for the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Only fellow Primera Division side Valencia stand in the way of Sevilla and their first European final since 2007, but Emery's side still have everything to play for in the league too.

They sit six points behind fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao and three ahead of Real Sociedad, aiming at the very least to hold on to fifth place, which would earn them an automatic spot in next year's Europa League.

"I live like a trapeze artist on a wire and my aim is to keep going, not stop, for better or worse, because I know that on Sunday we have another important challenge and we cannot stop now," Emery said.

His team's talisman, Ivan Rakitic, played against Porto despite suffering a fever and Emery admitted he might have to be rested against Betis.

"He had a fever, but he wanted to play and he made a huge effort, achieving a very high level of performance, and it may take its toll on him in the next few days," the coach said.

Rakitic is Sevilla's only fresh concern for the derby and one of just three players unavailable, but Betis, who prop up the league table, have a total of seven players out injured, while Lorenzo Reyes is suspended.

Sevilla knocked Betis out of the Europa League on penalties a month ago and coach Gabriel Calderon admitted that avenging that defeat was important to him and the players, who have all but given up hope of avoiding relegation. They are nine points adrift of safety with just six games remaining.

"I don't want to talk any more about that (survival) because we've been talking about it for the last two months and look what has happened," he told Marca.

"Without thinking about the future, winning against Sevilla is fundamental at every single level. The sadness with which fans left the stadium after the last derby broke my heart. I couldn't ask any more from my players, but we believe we can win, even though we accept reality."

"We need to play with a high rhythm and go out to win. We cannot speculate. We're not going to wait and see what Sevilla do, even though we know they are at their strongest at set-pieces and on the counter-attack. We will play with intelligence."

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