While Atletico de Madrid got 50 points in 19 games in LaLiga Santander, Diego Simeone achieved another important milestone.
Atlético Madrid’s entertaining 4-2 win at Cádiz CF on Sunday was Diego Simeone’s 214th as a coach in LaLiga Santander. That moved him ahead of Ernesto Valverde and means he is now the coach with the fifth most victories in the league’s history. Luis Aragonés’s record of 344 wins is the most, followed by Miguel Muñoz’s 323, Javier Irureta’s 259 and Ferdinand Daučík’s 234.
These two sides meet this Sunday (11.15pm Malaysia Time) in an encounter filled with both tradition and modern-day significance. Two of LaLiga’s marquee clubs with over 200 years of history between them, these two sides are both looking to push up the table in a LaLiga season which has thrown up quite a few surprises so far.
Athletic Club host Valencia at San Mames on Sunday in one of LaLiga Santander’s landmark fixtures, with the extra spice this time of Los Leones’ new coach Marcelino facing his former team.
Marcelino left the Valencia job in September 2019, just months after guiding Los Che to the 2019 Copa del Rey trophy, and still has many friends among the team who will visit San Mames for a game which comes as both teams are starting to look up the table after tricky first halves of the LaLiga Santander season.
The former Racing Santander, Recreativo de Huelva and Villarreal coach has had an instant impact at Athletic, guiding the Basque side past both Real Madrid and Barcelona to win January’s Spanish Super Cup. Valencia, meanwhile, have stabilised their form recently, with current coach Javi Gracia blending together a hard-working side which have just one loss in their last five LaLiga games.
Athletic come into the game in 11th place in the LaLiga Santander standings following their tight 2-1 defeat at Barcelona’s Camp Nou on Sunday. Their most recent game at San Mames showed more fearsome form, with Getafe taking the lead after just 20 seconds but five different Athletic players scoring for a final 5-1 scoreline.
Veteran midfielder Raul Garcia scored twice in that game against Getafe, adding to the two goals scored recently against Real Madrid in the Super Cup. Captain and playmaker Iker Muniain and centre-forward Iñaki Williams have also been in superb form since Marcelino’s arrival.
Valencia’s rollercoaster season has included a 4-1 victory over Real Madrid and a very creditable 2-2 draw at Barcelona, although Gracia’s team have struggled for consistency. Their last away trip saw them outclassed 3-1 at LaLiga leaders Atletico de Madrid, before Saturday’s gritty 1-0 victory at home to near neighbours Elche saw them up to 14th in the current table.
Homegrown midfielder Carlos Soler is Los Che’s topscorer in LaLiga with six – including five penalties, even after missing the first spot-kick of his career against Elche. Uruguayan striker Maxi Gomez has five goals so far in LaLiga, while captain and left-back Jose Gaya is a huge influence with four assists from left-back.
Meetings between these teams in recent years have brought plenty of drama – their first clash of 2020-21 was a thriller. Soler put Los Che ahead from spot, Asier Villalibre equalised before Raul Garcia’s penalty appeared to have set Los Leones on the way to victory, only for substitute Manu Garcia to make it 2-2 near the end. Valencia are also unbeaten on their last three visits to San Mames, with Denis Cheryshev netting the only goal on their most recent visit in September 2019.
Besides Marcelino’s connection, there have also been other links between the clubs over the years. Aritz Aduriz is well loved by fans of both teams for his goals in each of their colours, while others to have worn both jerseys including Andoni Zubizarreta, Asier del Horno and Edmundo Suarez Trabanco, who started at his career at Athletic but then scored 186 goals for Valencia between 1939 and 1950 and is till Los Che’s all time leading scorer in LaLiga.
Both teams will be out to make more history in Sunday’s meeting at San Mames, where old friendships and rivalries will add to the spectacle once again.
Spain’s top teams have been busy in the transfer market and on the pitch this week, as signings have been made and goals have been scored. All the main LaLiga Santander storylines from the past seven days are outlined below.
Papu Gómez lands at Sevilla
Sevilla FC made a blockbuster signing this past week, as former Atalanta captain Papu Gómez moved to the club on a three-and-a-half-year contract. The 32-year-old Argentine knows how to score goals and how to set them up, so Julen Lopetegui’s side might start scoring even more than they were already.
FC Barcelona win their latest clash with Athletic Club
For the third time in the month of January, FC Barcelona and Athletic Club faced off on Sunday night. The Catalan club had won the first meeting, winning 3-2 in LaLiga Santander in Bilbao. Then, the Basques won the second clash in the Spanish Super Cup final. This time, in this third duel, Barça came out on top 2-1 at the Camp Nou to take three LaLiga Santander points that put them second in the table, above Real Madrid.
Roger Martí and Morales do it again
Levante UD defeated Real Madrid 2-1 over the weekend and it was Roger Martí and José Luis Morales who were on the scoresheet for the Granotas. That has been a common theme all season as the former has netted nine league goals and the latter has eight. This means that the two forwards account for 17 of Levante’s 29 goals so far this season. That’s an incredible 59 percent.
Jesús Navas hits 400
Jesús Navas has already set various records with Sevilla FC and he became their first ever player to reach 400 LaLiga Santander appearances this week. By featuring in his side’s 2-0 win away at Eibar, Navas has now taken part in 195 wins, 82 draws and 123 defeats with Sevilla FC in Spain’s top tier.
Iago Aspas returns
RC Celta Vigo really missed Iago Aspas during his recent injury, but the forward is back and featured in their goalless draw away at Granada over the weekend. After 29 days out, Aspas returned and said that he feels good. RC Celta Vigo haven’t won any of their matches since he went down injured, so will be hoping their talisman can lead them to another three-point haul soon.