LaLiga MD 19 Preview: Leaders Real Madrid Usher In 2022 Action

Following the Christmas break, LaLiga Santander returns this weekend for the 10 fixtures of Matchday 19. There will be some New Year’s Eve action with Valencia CF vs RCD Espanyol, before six more matches on 2 January and three more on 3 January. It will also be a special matchday, as there are five regional derbies incoming: in the Community of Madrid, Getafe CF-Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid-Rayo Vallecano; in the Valencian Community, Villarreal CF-Levante UD; in the Basque Country, D Alaves-Real Sociedad; and in Andalucia, Cadiz CF-Sevilla FC.

It’ll be at Mestalla that Matchday 19 begins, as Los Che host RCD Espanyol for the final LaLiga Santander fixture of 2021, at 4:15 pm on 31 December. This has been a year of ups and downs for Valencia CF, but they’re finishing it well as José Bordalás’ side have won their past five matches across all competitions. At home to an RCD Espanyol side that haven’t yet won an away game this LaLiga Santander season, Valencia CF will hope to send their fans into the New Year’s Eve festivities on a high.

After a day of rest on 1 January, there is a slate of six fixtures this Sunday and leaders Real Madrid are in action in the first LaLiga Santander match of 2022, making the short trip to take on Getafe CF at 2:00 pm. Although these two Community of Madrid clubs are far apart in the table, Geta have been improving and their last four home matches have produced three wins and a draw. This could, therefore, be a tricky test to start the year for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

At 4:15 pm, there are two matches at the same time and one of them is another capital city derby, with Atletico Madrid hosting Rayo Vallecano. The visitors are actually ahead of Atleti by one point in the table, so this should be a fascinating encounter as Radamel Falcao takes on his former club. At the same time, Elche CF and Granada CF square off and they’ll each be hoping for the three points to inch further away from the relegation zone.

Two more Sunday afternoon matches follow at 6:30 pm, with José Luis Mendilibar debuting as Deportivo Alaves’ new coach as they host Real Sociedad for a Basque derby. This is always a passionate and fun fixture, but there is even more intrigue as Mendizorrotza welcomes Mendilibar. Meanwhile, Real Betis will be hosting RC Celta and hoping to stay inside the top three to start 2022, buoyed by the news of Manuel Pellegrini’s new contract.

The sixth and final match of Sunday then takes place in Palma at 9:00 pm as RCD Mallorca meet FC Barcelona. For Xavi Hernández, this is a return to the place where he made his debut for Barça as a player. Now head coach, he is still learning how to best set his Blaugrana team up and looking for another three points in order to keep moving up the table. It may also be a special match for Takefusa Kubo, after spending almost four seasons at La Masia, the renowned FC Barcelona Academy.

That busy Sunday is followed by a Monday with three more LaLiga Santander fixtures, starting at 7:00 pm with Villarreal CF vs Levante UD. This was actually the very first LaLiga Santander fixture of 2021 and Villarreal CF won 2-1 on that occasion. To kick off 2022, the Yellow Submarine will be seeking a similar three-point haul, which would be a sixth win in a row.

Following that clash between the two Valencian Community clubs, there are two more regional rivalries to close out Matchday 19. One is CA Osasuna vs Athletic Club, a fixture that is always fiery and always entertaining. Then comes Cadiz CF vs Sevilla FC, as the home side seek what would be a first victory over their Andalusian neighbours since 4 January 2006. Just like all the other teams, both Cadiz CF and Sevilla FC will be looking to start 2022 on the front foot.