LaLiga Preview: The first derby of the season kicks off the weekend

LaLiga Preview: The first derby of the season kicks off the weekend

The first round of the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season didn’t disappoint, with late goals, big wins and emerging stars taking the headlines. Now that Spanish football is well and truly back, fans can look forward to the first derby match of the new campaign as Real Betis host Cádiz CF on Friday night to kick-off Matchday 2. This is a clash between two Andalusian sides with passionate fanbases and it will be extra special since this will be the first regional derby that Cádiz play in front of fans since returning to Spain’s top flight in 2020. 

After that derby, the second matchday of the season continues on Saturday with D. Alavés vs RCD Mallorca next on the agenda. The three points on offer could turn out to be vital by the end of the year, so this is a huge fixture even at this early stage of the season. This could also be a particularly intriguing match for Japanese football fans, as former FC Tokyo teammates Taichi Hara and Takefusa Kubo could go up against each other. 

Two 7.30pm CEST kick-offs follow: Granada CF vs Valencia CF and with RCD Espanyol vs Villarreal CF. The first of these fixtures sees two new coaches square off, as Robert Moreno and José Bordalás look to build on their promising starts at their new clubs. Then, Espanyol’s fixture will be a joyous one for their fanbase as LaLiga Santander football returns to the RCDE Stadium and as the Pericos test themselves against the reigning Europa League winners. 

In the final match of Saturday night, at 10pm CEST, a classic Spanish football fixture will take place in Bilbao as Athletic Club go up against FC Barcelona. These two sides have never been relegated, playing in every LaLiga Santander season since the first in 1929. They’ve also met a lot in cup competitions, including the finals of last season’s Super Cup and Copa del Rey, meaning this will be the fifth meeting between the sides in 2021. The results across that span have been three victories for Barça and one for Athletic Club, but this is always a tricky trip for the Catalans and a fascinating game of football is in store. 

On Sunday, last season’s fifth placed side Real Sociedad host newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano in San Sebastián, with both sides looking to pick up their first points of the season. Then, even though Atlético de Madrid started their title defence with a victory, Diego Simeone’s side have another big game of their own as they play in front of their home fans at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano for the first time in a year and a half. The new champions will want to put on a show for their fanbase as they host Elche CF, although it has to be kept in mind that the Franjiverdes caused Atleti many headaches across their two meetings last season. 

The 10pm CEST game on Sunday is another clash between sides from the Madrid and Valencia regions, as Real Madrid travel east to take on Levante UD. This is always a tough fixture for Los Blancos, who haven’t taken six points from six against the Granotas in any single season since Levante returned to the top division in 2017. In that span, there have been eight meetings between the sides and the results have been even, with three victories each and two draws. In fact, one of the last games Levante played at home before the pandemic saw Real Madrid fall to defeat thanks to a long-range slammer from captain Jose Luis Morales. Fans at the newly renovated Ciutat de Valencia would love nothing more than a repeat of that this weekend.  

The final two fixtures of Matchday 2 will be on Monday night, the first of which sees Getafe CF host Sevilla FC. The visitors will be looking to keep up their positive start to a season in which they really could challenge for the title, but Getafe are always strong at home and showed some positive signs even in defeat in the opening round. CA Osasuna vs RC Celta completes Matchday 2 and goals should be expected with attacking talents such as Chimy Ávila, Ante Budimir, Kike García and Iago Aspas on show. 

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