• Friday, April 19, 2024
businessday logo


LaLiga braces for ‘El Gran Derbi’ as six of the top seven face-off


A pulsating weekend of LaLiga Santander football lies ahead, with six of the teams currently between first and seventh position to play matches against fellow top-seven sides. That includes Real Betis and Sevilla, who’ll meet in the first Seville derby in a full stadium in two years.

On Saturday, Granada will be hoping to keep up their improved run of form when they visit Espanyol in the early kick-off, with the Andalusian side having won two and drawn two of their past four. For the Pericos, they’ll hope to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Getafe now that Raúl De Tomás is back available for selection.

Barcelona are also desperate to return to winning ways after three LaLiga Santander matches without a victory. It won’t be easy for the Catalan side, though, as they have to visit Celta Vigo at Abanca Balaídos. Although the Blaugrana won there last season behind closed doors, they had failed to win on their previous six trips, suffering three defeats and three draws in front of the passionate Galician fanbase. Those supporters will be back this weekend and will hope their players can deal Barça another blow.

Two teams inside the bottom four meet next as Alavés host Levante for a relegation six-pointer, before Saturday night brings the first of the weekend’s top-of-the-table clashes. Sixth-placed Rayo Vallecano will make the short trip across the capital to take on second-placed Real Madrid at the Bernabéu at 9pm CET, with the newly promoted side looking to keep up their excellent early season form. Andoni Iraola has built a solid Rayo side, and this won’t be an easy one for Los Blancos.

Read Also: El Clasico, the game that could decide LaLiga title race

LaLiga football

Five more matches follow on Sunday and the first of them, Villarreal vs Getafe, should be intense as two sides who have started the season disappointingly meet. The Yellow Submarine would have expected to be higher than 13th at this point but will be buoyed by a positive midweek result in the Champions League, while Geta are both frustrated to be bottom but confident after securing their first victory last weekend. Enes Ünal was the goalscoring hero for Quique Sanchez Flores’ side then and will hope to find the back of the net again as he takes on his former club.

Atlético Madrid are the only one of the clubs currently inside the European qualification positions who won’t be facing another top-seven side this weekend. But they still have a huge fixture as they visit Mestalla to take on 10th-placed Valencia. These are two of the most historically successful sides in Spanish football and this fixture always produces fireworks. That is certainly one to watch when it gets going at 4.15pm CET on Sunday.

Two games at opposite ends of the season kick-off simultaneously at 6.30pm. The first sees leaders Real Sociedad visit seventh-placed Osasuna in a regional rivalry match, while the other pits together Mallorca and Elche in a battle between two sides whose primary objective for this season is to avoid the drop.

The Matchday 13 action then concludes with one of the fiercest rivalry matches in all of football: Real Betis vs Sevilla FC. The Seville derby – also known as El Gran Derbi – is always a great occasion, even when it has been played in the second division or when both sides were struggling in the top tier. But this season both these teams are flying high; Real Betis are currently fifth, Sevilla third. With the gap at just three points, a Verdiblanco victory would move Manuel Pellegrini’s men level with their city rivals and would send the Estadio Benito Villamarín into frenzy in what is the first Seville derby with fans back in the stands since November 2019. With the fanbases actively adding to the spectacle of this fixture, football fans around the world won’t want to miss this 9pm CET Sunday night kick off.