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Sunday, March 26, 2023

LaLiga Preview: An Engrossing Madrid Derby

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LaLiga matchday six comes just before the September international break, there are several important fixtures, not least the first Madrid Derby of the season, which will take place between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid at the Cívitas Metropolitano on Sunday night.

Before that, the first fixture of Matchday 6 could be just as important at the bottom end of the table. Real Valladolid and Cádiz CF will face off on Friday and both are expected to be in the relegation battle come the end of the season, given that Pucela are a newly promoted side and since Cádiz CF still have zero points after five rounds. With a lot at stake, that should be an interesting watch, just as it will be when UD Almería travel to RCD Mallorca for the first game of Saturday, another match-up that could be considered a six-pointer.

On Saturday afternoon, Barcelona take on Elche at the Camp Nou at 16:15 CEST in the knowledge that they’ll go top, at least temporarily, with a victory. Barçelona won both their matches against Elche CF last season, but required goals in the final 10 minutes on each occasion to achieve this.

Coach Francisco will look to conjure up another game plan that can frustrate the Blaugrana, who’ll hope that Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembélé and Raphinha can continue to gel in attack.

The LaLiga Santander action then stops by Mestalla and San Mamés on Saturday night, two of the stadiums with the best atmospheres in Spanish football. First, Valencia CF will square off against RC Celta, looking for the three points against the Galician side.

Under Gennaro Gattuso, Los Che have either won or lost so far, with no draws at this point, but it has generally been positive. Then, in Bilbao, Athletic Club have also had a good start since Ernesto Valverde returned in the summer and they’ll hope to continue that against Rayo Vallecano, although former Athletic Club captain Andoni Iraola did coach his current team to victory in this fixture last season.

The first game of Sunday is CA Osasuna vs Getafe CF and the Pamplona-based outfit will hope to keep up their great start to the season, as they’ve won four out of five so far. Chimy Ávila is back to his best and it could be a ferocious battle as Getafe CF come to town.

At 16:15 CEST on Sunday, there is a clash between two of Spain’s top teams, with Villarreal CF taking on Sevilla FC. It’s a battle of two Basque tacticians, in Unai Emery and Julen Lopetegui, with Emery challenging the club where he won three Europa League titles. With players like Giovani Lo Celso, Arnaut Danjuma, Marcos Acuña and Isco involved, this will be a contest packed full of quality.

At 18:30 CEST, there are then two games taking place simultaneously as Real Betis vs Girona FC and Real Sociedad vs RCD Espanyol take place at the same time. For both the home sides, they’re aiming to return to Europe this season, but they’ll both have to overcome injury issues against two Catalan clubs that possess enough talent to cause problems.

Then, the LaLiga blockbuster match of the round takes place at 21:00 CEST on Sunday night, as Real Madrid make the very short trip to meet Atletico Madrid at the Cívitas Metropolitano. Los Blancos had gone unbeaten at Atleti’s new ground over their first four visits, but then lost 1-0 to a Yannick Carrasco penalty when they played there at the end of last season. That will give Diego Simeone and the home fans the confidence to believe they can defeat Real Madrid again, even with the champions having started their title defence with five wins out of five.

The Madrid Derby is always a thrilling fixture, featuring the quality of players like João Félix and Vinícius, the spirit of warriors like José María Giménez and Fede Valverde and the passion of academy graduates such as Koke and Dani Carvajal. This latest edition should be as captivating as ever.

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