The world will be watching on Saturday afternoon as FC Barcelona host Real Madrid at the Camp Nou for the first ElClásico of the season, but there’s so much more than that clash of titans on Matchday 7.
ElClásico is without doubt the blockbuster fixture of this weekend’s action and it’ll take place at 3pm Nigerian time on Saturday afternoon. With both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid suffering shock 1-0 defeats last weekend, to Getafe CF and to Cádiz CF respectively, these two giants of Spanish football will be desperate to avoid falling any further behind in the standings in this ultra-competitive LaLiga Santander season.
Real Madrid got the better of their rivals last season on their way to the title, drawing 0-0 at the Camp Nou when Ernesto Valverde was in charge of the Blaugrana and then winning 2-0 at the Bernabéu in the return fixture against Quique Setién’s Barça outfit. Now, there’s another new coach in the dugout for FC Barcelona which means this will be the first ever meeting between Ronald Koeman and Zinedine Zidane.
Ahead of ElClásico, football fans can warm up with early fixture Elche CF vs Valencia CF for a Valencian Community derby.
Their last meeting was a 4-0 Valencia win at Elche’s Manuel Martínez Valero stadium back in 2015 and now, four years later, the newly promoted side will look to avenge that defeat. They’ve started the season excellently, with seven points from their four matches so far, and are actually level on points with their historically bigger neighbours.
ElClásico then takes centre stage on Saturday afternoon at the 3pm slot, before two matches take place side by side at 5:30pm.
The first pits together Sevilla FC and SD Eibar; the Basque minnows actually have a good record against the Champions League participants, with the head-to-head record from their past five meetings standing at two wins each and one draw. Further north, CA Osasuna vs Athletic Club at El Sadar is one of Spanish football’s most historic match-ups and will be played on Osasuna’s 100th anniversary.
The action-packed Saturday then concludes with another huge match, with Atlético de Madrid hosting Real Betis at the Wanda Metropolitano.
It was a home defeat to Real Betis back in 2011 that provoked Atleti’s decision to hire Diego Simeone and, since then, they’ve won seven and drawn one of their eight home matches against Los Verdiblancos, scoring 16 goals and conceding just one. Simeone celebrated his 200th LaLiga Santander win as coach last weekend and will be keen for number 201 to follow this Saturday.
There are four more matches on Sunday, starting with a meeting of two teams currently inside the relegation zone as Real Valladolid play D. Alavés. It’s still early, but another defeat for either of these sides could cause panic to start setting in.
There is no panic at Cádiz CF or at Villarreal CF, meanwhile, and they each go into their Sunday afternoon meeting after big wins, as Cádiz just won away at Real Madrid while Villarreal overcame local rivals Valencia on Matchday 6. This ‘Battle of the Yellows’, then, is one between two sides full of confidence.
Getafe CF vs Granada CF is also a meeting of two teams who are flying high, after the former overcame Barcelona last weekend and after the latter beat Sevilla.
This is an extra special week for Granada after their first ever Europa League group stage match on Thursday ended with a victory at PSV Eindhoven. Diego Martínez and his players will treasure that occasion, but the coach will also hope there’s no European hangover on Sunday.
To round off Sunday, SD Huesca visit Real Sociedad in search of their first win since their promotion as LaLiga SmartBank champions.
Even though the team from Aragon haven’t won yet this season, they have been impressive and remain unbeaten away as their record stands at one defeat only and five draws from six matches.
Real Sociedad are the current LaLiga Santander leaders and it won’t be easy to win at the Reale Arena, but SD Huesca will go there full of belief as they pit their brand of attacking football against that of La Real.
Matchday 7 then concludes with Levante UD taking on RC Celta at the Estadio de la Cerámica. Given that these two teams have lost their past three matches, they’re both in need of points and that kind of situation tends to produce end-to-end action. It promises to be the perfect way to bring ElClásico weekend to a close.