One of LaLiga's fiercest city derbies takes place on Saturday, as Sevilla and Real Betis meet at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan in a game which could have a significant impact on an enthralling top-four race.

El Gran Derbi, as it is known in Andalusia's capital, rarely disappoints, as both clubs are renowned for their vociferous supporters and the electric atmospheres they create.

Even before their encounters begin, the streets surrounding the stadium overflow with people in a party atmosphere – incessant chants pound your eardrums, flare smoke obscures your vision and excitable fans make it nearly impossible to move.

On the pitch, proceedings are often fiery and engrossing, with only one derby in the last 10 years finishing goalless.

But few of their meetings have ever come amid a race for Champions League football, with the six-way scrap for the final spot in LaLiga's top four proving a gripping watch.

Getafe unlikely occupiers of the hot seat

In only four of their 11 previous seasons in the top flight have Getafe finished in the top half of the table, making their rise to fourth in LaLiga all the more remarkable for a side with one of the smallest budgets in the division.

Key to their success this season has been striker Jaime Mata, a free transfer from promoted Real Valladolid after scoring 35 times for them last term. His 13-goal haul this season earned him a shock Spain call-up last month.

Centre-back Djene Dakonam has been similarly vital and has established himself as one of the league's finest defenders, with his athleticism, reading of the game and technical ability making him a fine all-round player.

A run of one win in four games has seen their stranglehold on fourth slip a little, with Sevilla now just a point behind, but there is no doubt coach Jose Bordalas is doing a sterling job at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez and will likely be targeted by bigger clubs come the end of the season.

Do or die for Betis

No team in LaLiga flitters between the brilliant and the baffling quite like Quique Setien's Betis, as they are entirely capable of beating Barcelona in Camp Nou one week, before then losing to struggling Villarreal the next, as occurred in November.

Although entertaining to watch, Betis simply do not score often enough, with Sergio Canales and Giovani Lo Celso their joint-top scorers in LaLiga on just seven goals apiece.

They have slipped to ninth and seven points adrift of Getafe after just one win in their past four games, though victory over their bitter rivals on Saturday will surely restore belief and boost morale ahead of the run-in, particularly if Bordalas' men fail to beat Valladolid.

However, Betis have won just one LaLiga match at Sevilla since 2012 – a remarkable 5-3 victory last season during Vincenzo Montella's rather hapless period in charge at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.

Sevilla picking up a head of steam, but Valencia lurk

Since Joaquin Caparros replaced Pablo Machin as Sevilla coach for a third spell at the helm, Los Rojiblancos have won four of five LaLiga games to put them right back on the heels of Getafe, whom they face next week.

That momentum has them on track again following a dismal run, which saw them go from pacesetters in December to losing at rock-bottom Huesca and dropping out of the top four last month.

Their solitary defeat since Caparros' return was to Valencia, who have enjoyed a remarkable rise up the table and are many people's favourites to eventually finish fourth, even after their defeat to Rayo Vallecano.

Losing to Deportivo Alaves at the start of 2019 left Valencia 12th, but their subsequent 12-match unbeaten run propelled them right into Champions League contention, four points behind Getafe in sixth.

Alaves, Athletic Bilbao still in the hunt

Completing the queue behind Getafe are Alaves and Athletic, both of whom have also had intriguing seasons.

Similarly to Getafe, Alaves are by no means one of LaLiga's traditional clubs, with this being only their ninth season in the top tier since the 1950s.

Yet they have been remarkably consistent this term, occupying a place between third and seventh – where they are ahead of Saturday's trip to Espanyol – ever since the fifth matchday of the campaign.

Whereas Athletic looked in real danger of suffering a first ever relegation as recently as February, but Gaizka Garitano has steadied the ship in expert fashion.

Level with Betis on 43 points and having suffered only one defeat in their last five, few will be surprised if Athletic are pushing Getafe, Sevilla and Valencia at the end of the season.

Jaime Mata admits his call-up to the Spain squad is "a bit of a novelty" but is determined to make the most of his chance under Luis Enrique.

The 30-year-old earned a place in the senior set-up for the first time in his career following his fine form for Getafe in his first season at the club.

Mata's 13 goals and six assists in 25 appearances in 2018-19 have propelled Jose Bordalas' side into an unlikely challenge for a Champions League spot.

And, having spent much of his career outside Spain's top tier, Mata is now eager to make the most of his chance at the very highest international level.

"It's a bit of a novelty," he told reporters in the build-up to Spain's opening Euro 2020 qualifier against Norway on Saturday.

"It's an unusual case to reach the highest level at my age, and with my career going through all the leagues and reaching LaLiga later than the rest. I'm adapting to the rhythm and my team-mates and I'm happy."

When asked what advice he would give to other more experienced players hoping to emulate his achievement, Mata replied: "I'm nobody to give advice.

"You have to enjoy every stage of your footballing life as if it were the best thing to be in the category you are. You have to enjoy the day and to work with the greatest enthusiasm. Your career also depends on outside factors, not just you.

"Age in the football world is not as important any more. Every player takes much more care of himself, the food is better, the rest - all of this makes a sportsman's life longer. Now, being 30 is not like it was a few years ago."

Isco's fall from grace continued on Friday with the Real Madrid midfielder left out of Luis Enrique's Spain squad for the matches against Norway and Malta.

Isco has made just five starts for Madrid in LaLiga this season, despite the club's domestic struggles, and his lack of playing time has seen him omitted from a much-changed selection.

His Madrid team-mates Sergio Reguilon and Nacho Fernandez have also been left out as have Atletico Madrid trio Diego Costa, Koke and Saul Niguez.

Uncapped quartet Sergio Canales, Sergi Gomez, Jaime Mata and Fabian Ruiz have all been included while there are returns for Jesus Navas and Iker Muniain.

Experienced Sevilla winger Navas has not played for his country in a competitive fixture since 2013 while Athletic Bilbao midfielder Muniain won his only cap a year earlier.

Defender Gomez is rewarded for a strong season with Sevilla, as is Canales with Real Betis while Ruiz has impressed in Serie A with Napoli. 

Mata, 30, has scored 13 league goals in Getafe's bid for Champions League qualification, the club sitting fourth in the table heading into matchday 28.

Spain's European Championship qualifying programme begins on March 23 when they host Norway in Valencia before travelling to Malta three days later.

Spain squad in full: David de Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), Pau Lopez (Real Betis); Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Sergi Gomez (Sevilla), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Mario Hermoso (Espanyol), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Jose Gaya (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Juan Bernat (Paris Saint-Germain); Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodrigo (Atletico Madrid), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid), Fabian Ruiz (Naples), Dani Parejo (Valencia), Sergio Canales (Betis); Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Rodrigo (Valencia), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao), Jaime Mata (Getafe).

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde warned against underestimating the Madrid teams in this season's LaLiga after his side beat Getafe 2-1 to go five points clear at the top of the table.

On a day when second-placed Atletico Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Sevilla and Real Madrid suffered a 2-0 home defeat against Real Sociedad, Barcelona edged a tight game at Coliseum Alfonso Perez to open up a gap on their rivals.

Memorable first-half goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez put Barcelona in charge before Jaime Mata scored in a brave Getafe fightback, but the champions proved too strong for Pepe Bordalas' side.

Valverde's future at Camp Nou had been the subject of speculation in the week leading up to the game and, having delivered a result that leaves his position and the Blaugrana's title defence looking all the more secure, he issued words of caution.

"It has been a hard match," Valverde told reporters. "We knew it would be as well.

"We withstood the challenge and picked up more points than those behind us.

"For us it was crucial to be focused. Getafe is a strong rival and pressured us a lot. We have to recognise that they had chances too."

Getafe are seventh in the table, just five points behind fifth-placed Real Madrid, whose chances of pushing Barcelona for the title appear to be fading.

Valverde underlined Getafe's quality while indicating that he felt the title race remains open.

"Getafe is an uncomfortable rival for Barca and for anyone," he said. "They are experts in winning second balls. They are a hard and difficult team, as the table reflects.

"I don't think too much on the rest of the results. I think about what we have in front of us and never rule out the teams in Madrid or the rest."

Valverde's opposite number Bordalas lamented the decisions that went against his side, who had a goal ruled out in the ninth minute.

Getafe could have been playing against 10 men after Arthur appeared to connect an elbow with Angel Rodriguez's face but the Barcelona midfielder escaped with only a booking.

Mata also missed a glorious opportunity to equalise after rounding Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and Bordalas said: "The feeling is bittersweet.

"We have had occasions: one goal annulled, a possible red card. We feel very much harmed.

"We made a great match. It is true that they have Messi, the best player in the world, but all in all I think that we have been able to play in the match.

"We had clear chances that we could not take."

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored sublime goals as Barcelona beat Getafe 2-1 in a bruising encounter and moved five points clear at the top of LaLiga.

Messi took the initiative on 20 minutes with a trademark moment of brilliance and Suarez plundered a superb volley to double Barca's lead.

Getafe quickly responded with a goal from Jaime Mata but, for all their craft and physicality, they could not claw their way back onto level terms.

With Atletico Madrid and Sevilla having played out a 1-1 draw earlier in the day, the result puts Barcelona well and truly in the driving seat at the halfway point in the season as head coach Ernesto Valverde ended a week of speculation over his future with a satisfying, hard-fought victory.

Dimitri Foulquier had the ball in the net inside the opening nine minutes only for the referee to award a free-kick to Barcelona for a foul on Clement Lenglet.

Barca midfielder Arthur was lucky not to see red for an elbow on Angel Rodriguez before Messi broke the deadlock with a masterclass in quick thinking.

The Argentina ace nutmegged goalkeeper David Soria with his first touch before slotting the ball into the empty net from an acute angle with his second.

Suarez then doubled the lead with an exquisite volley from the edge of the box that sent the ball screaming to the right of a helpless Soria.

Getafe pulled themselves back into the game on the stroke of half-time when Mata bundled into an unguarded net after Rodriguez flashed the ball across the face of goal.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a superb save to deny Leandro Cabrera with an hour gone, pushing the centre-back's thunderous header over the crossbar.

Mata then got in behind the Barcelona defence with the ball and rounded Ter Stegen but somehow blazed his shot over the crossbar from 10 yards.

Messi had a chance to score his second of the night and his 400th LaLiga goal when he burst through on goal with 15 minutes left but his shot was too close to Soria, who saved to tee up a tense finish that saw Barcelona hold on.

What does it mean? Title looking like Barca's to lose

This victory will have felt all the sweeter for Barcelona after Real Madrid's 2-0 defeat at home to Real Sociedad earlier in the day and the Blaugrauna are now 10 points clear of their deadliest rivals, as well as being five clear at the top of the table.

Dembele drives Barca forward

While Messi and Suarez scored headline-grabbing goals, Ousmane Dembele was a constant threat for the visitors and often provided the vital link between midfield and attack with his storming forward runs.

Pique and Lenglet ride their luck

Getafe exposed Barcelona through the middle of their defence time and again, and it was only Mata's wayward finishing and Ter Stegen's acrobatic goalkeeping that prevented the hosts from grabbing at least a point.

What's next?

Barcelona travel to Valencia on Thursday for a Copa del Rey clash with Levante, while Getafe face Real Valladolid at home in the same competition a day earlier.

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