You wake up moderately hungover, having explored the deep space of friendship on a video call with someone who moved out of the city several years ago, who used to live down the street, whom you do not see anymore for six or nine months at a time. You could feel worse. You drink green juice and tell dumb drowsy jokes to your partner, who is preoccupied with packing for a move, paper and press plates that will soon travel to a studio a mile south from your apartment. You will help her with this, but not right now. There are five beers in the fridge. You immediately decide you're drinking two of them.
The Seville Derby is on. Minute eight. You hadn't thought about it until now. A sheet of morning sunlight slants across the living room, warming your lap and attaching you to the couch. Watching this thing feels like it's what you're supposed to be doing.
The best player on the pitch early and pretty much throughout, is a Mexican winger named Jesus Corona. You've known the player for a while, but at some point that escaped your notice, he started going by Tecatito, which you're pretty sure is Spanish for a small Tecate. You dub him Tecatito "The Beerman" Corona, as he knocks the ball past a Betis defender, runs around him, and hits a perfect curling pass that results in a Sevilla penalty. Ivan Rakitić buries the spot kick. 1-0.
El Gran Derbi is the best rivalry hardly anyone outside Spain cares about. The country could stand to be more parochial, in its rooting interests. Nearly everybody is either a Barcelona or Real Madrid fan, with a small handful of non-superpower clubs enjoying broad and ravenous local support. Sevilla and Real Betis are two of them, and given that they've both been pretty good over the past half-decade or so, their matches are intense and well-played. Their stadiums would be packed for derby day even if this wasn't the case, but there is a primal edge to the crowd at the Sánchez-Pizjuán today, which seems to will Marcos Acuña into scissor-kicking Nabil Fekir when Betis doesn't play the ball out with a Sevilla player lying down on the pitch.
There is promise in this match that burns off as it becomes apparent that, though Betis are a technically skilled bunch, they're not going to be able to withstand Sevilla's physicality. The Sevilla front line presses their defenders, forcing them to hit it long to the strong but not-terribly-mobile Borja Iglesias. When Betis get a little too cute, Sevilla turns them over before the ball reaches the halfway line.
During a break in the action, the announcer tells the story about Sevilla beating Real Betis 22-0 in 1918. He probably gets a few details wrong, because it would be impossible not to. This is the kind of story that's missing some crucial facts, so whoever's telling it needs to fill the gaps with speculation and hearsay, just to get from beginning to end. The version you have always heard, which diverges somewhat from the announcer's version, is that, as a sort of punishment following an incident where a Betis fan attacked a Sevilla player with a knife, the captain general of Andalusia, Jose Ximenez de Sandoval, decided that no military personnel would be allowed to participate in the next Gran Derbi. Well, Sevilla didn't have any soldiers in their side, but several Betis players were enlisted. Effectively, the captain general was sanctioning Betis. In protest, the club threw out a team of youth players—like, literal children—who proceeded to lose by 22 goals.
For a long time after that, no Betis player wore the number 22. Sevilla fans still chant 22-0! during derby matches. All of this comes up because Betis midfielder Victor Camarasa is wearing the ignominious number. Nothing much happens with him. He plays a rather anonymous match.
The Beerman keeps burning Betis defenders down the right wing, though he's not the force that creates Sevilla's second goal. It's Munir El Haddadi running down the left, settling onto a ball over the top, and hitting a nicely placed low shot that Claudio Bravo should probably save but doesn't. The Pizjuán begins to quake, cameras wobbling in their nests. Sevilla are going to take this.
You watch the second half while loading card stock into bins, babbling with false excitement about how good this new studio space is going to be for your partner, thinking about how few friends you have left in the city, feeling as you have for the past few weeks thoroughly wrung out and incapable of experiencing happiness that doesn't quickly firework inside you and die. Betis have more of the ball, but it's because Sevilla have given them permission. They don't create much in the way of true scoring chances, beyond a moment when Hector Bellerin lofts a cross that Álex Moreno can't volley into an open net. (The Sevilla keeper Bono, in a beautifully spiteful touch, kisses a distraught Moreno on the forehead.)
Right at the end of the match, Sergio Canales stands over a stopped ball, in the kind of position that's ideal for a left-footer, just beyond the penalty box and a little bit to the right. Canales is usually good from this range. On this strike, he's perfect. He places a gorgeous free kick that swerves past Bono and into the net. If he'd done this ten minutes earlier, we might have a game, but this one's already wrapped up. The meaning of the kick is contained entirely in how pretty it looks on replay, spinning toward its target. The final whistle is imminent. Betis will take the loss having gone out with an elegant flourish, at least.
You stand in the garage later that day, taking the measure of a work-week you know you'll survive but are not sure you want to. Thoughts come very slowly and faintly. For a moment you forget what you came down here to grab. You think of Tecatito dipping and slicing up the pitch, Canales directing his goal as if by remote control. You feel your distress diminish slightly, and find what you were looking for. In this cold dusty space you are reminded that the world, which you are a part of, is made of both heavy and buoyant things. This is going to have to be enough, for now.