The eyes of all football fans all over the globe will once again be on Madrid this weekend, with Saturday’s LaLiga El Clasico just one reason why the Spanish city remains the capital of world football.
Real Madrid will be out for revenge in the second El Clasico of 2018/19, with Barcelona having romped to a 5-1 in last October’s first meeting of the season. However a lot has changed since then on both sides and more excitement and surprises are certain at the Santiago Bernabeu.
With Barça ahead of Real Madrid in the standings, the onus will be on the home side to breathe life into the title race and close the gap with their eternal rivals. Aside from the plethora of world-class stars who’ll grace the stage on Satuday night, goals are always guaranteed in El Clasico, so much so that no LaLiga meeting between the two has ended goalless since 2002.
But while the 241st edition of world football’s most glamorous fixture understandably draws a lot of the attention, it should not be forgotten that there is a lot more football taking place this weekend in the Spanish capital, as always. Madrid of course has five teams in LaLiga Santander for the 2018/19 season, with Real joined by long-time historic rivals Atletico de Madrid, along with other close neighbours Rayo Vallecano, Getafe and Leganes.
Atletico will be watching Saturday’s events at the Bernabeu very closely, with Los Rojiblancos (the red and whites) currently second in LaLiga Santander, seven points behind leaders Barça and two ahead of their city rivals Real Madrid in third. Diego Simeone’s side have reacted well to early February’s 1-3 ‘derbi’ defeat to Real, winning both LaLiga Santander fixtures since to stay in the title race, including 1-0 at Rayo two weeks’ ago.
Atletico are not at their super modern Wanda Metropolitano this weekend, as they face Basque side Real Sociedad in San Sebastian on Sunday evening.
The weekend’s LaLiga programme kicks off at Rayo’s Estadio Vallecas on Friday evening, with Girona the visitors. Promoted after winning last LaLiga 1l2l3 last year, Los Franjirrojos (The Red Sashes) started 2019 in excellent form but have slipped to 19th in the table after four straight LaLiga Santander defeats. So the locals at atmospheric old Vallecas will aim to raise key centre-forward Raul de Tomas and his teammates to a crucial three points.
The southern suburbs of the Spanish capital also close off this weekend’s LaLiga Santander action, as Leganes host Levante on Monday evening. Now firmly established in LaLiga Santander after reaching the top flight for the first time in 2014, Leganes’ Estadio Municipal Butarque is one of the most comfortable and family-friendly places to watch a game in Spain. The current positive buzz is helped by Los Pepineros’ [the Cucumbers] superb home record which has seen them fall to just one defeat in 12 games this season, plus September’s first ever LaLiga victory over Barcelona.
Getafe, meanwhile, are having perhaps their best ever LaLiga season, riding high in fourth place in the standings with 25 games played. Coach Jose Bordalas’ superbly organised side have won four and drawn two of their last seven games, including a 2-1 victory over Rayo last weekend, bringing dreams of Champions League football at their Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium next season. The Coliseum is quiet this weekend as Getafe travel to Andalusians Real Betis on Sunday afternoon.
LaLiga 1l2l3 teams Alcorcon and Rayo Majadahonda bring the total number of professional teams in the city to seven. This weekend sees Alcorcon play away at RC Deportivo on Monday evening, with ‘Los Alfareros’ (The Potters) hoping to finally make the step up after coming close to promotion many times in recent years. Rayo Majadahonda, from the north-west of the city, are enjoying their first-ever season in the second tier, winning 3-2 at R. Sporting last weekend to climb towards mid-table. The ambitious club are playing their games this season at neighbours’ Atletico’s Cerro del Espino facility, where Granada are the visitors on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday evening’s huge game at the Bernabeu will make many headlines, but the LaLiga Clasico is just one element of Madrid’s football weekend. There really is no other city like it… anywhere.