LEAGUES

Coronavirus: Lopetegui says Sevilla must adapt to 'unthinkable' derby circumstances

5 months ago
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Opposing Sevilla and Real Betis coaches Julen Lopetegui and Rubi gave their thoughts ahead of LaLiga's resumption.

Julen Lopetegui concedes Sevilla must learn to adapt to previously "unthinkable" circumstances in the derby against Real Betis, whose head coach Rubi warned fans not to gather in large groups.

After a lengthy coronavirus-enforced suspension, LaLiga is scheduled to resume on Thursday with the clash between the Seville rivals at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

With the world still in the midst of the global health crisis, supporters will not be in attendance for what would normally be a cauldron of noise for a bitter rivalry.

Sevilla head coach Lopetegui recognises the unique situation but said his side are still aware of the importance of the fixture.

"We are looking forward to competing again. We are under circumstances that were unthinkable three months ago, but today they are a reality," Lopetegui said.

"We must adapt to a different situation, so we will play the derby. We all know the meaning of this derby.

"We will try to do our best, to adapt well to the situation we will face. And, especially, to try to beat a very good team, such as Betis."

Opposite number Rubi also acknowledged the significance of the game being played behind closed doors and urged fans not to break safety protocols for the fixture.

"No doubt, it is an historic derby, because it will be hardly repeated, fingers crossed, in these circumstances," he said.

"Therefore, the score of this derby will be always remembered. It is the one post lockdown, post-pandemic, no fans, first game of resumption in LaLiga.

"That's why it is even more important from my point of view. It will be remembered, the date and the score of the game.

"It has been a tough month for the squad. We started having training on May 10 and we are now at June 10, so we have been only a month and it has been a complicated month because there have been new phases, new periods of time, we change training from home to the pitch, but I think we're in a really good condition.

"I agree 100 per cent on all the opinions which have been made until now. It is very important to follow what we are demanded to do, keeping the social distancing, and not forming large groups of people.

"Fans have to enjoy the game at home or in the pubs where they are allowed to get in with friends.

"It is a different way. Hopefully, it will be only once in a lifetime. For once, let's enjoy it in another way, enjoying at 100 per cent. We will do it, although there will be no fans, making it a weird day, we will do our best to enjoy it at the maximum.

"They [fans] will have to do [so too], and we will feel it, but maybe they should do it in a different way than they are used to doing."

Sevilla are third in the table with 11 games to go in their battle for Champions League football, while Betis are down in 12th.

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