The biggest match in club football is just around the corner: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid, ElClasico, will be played this Sunday afternoon at 4.15pm CEST. Every clash between these two historic foes is special, but this one will be especially thrilling since it’ll be the first ElClásico with fans back in the stands since before the pandemic. Then, for dessert, reigning champions Atlético de Madrid host current LaLiga Santander leaders Real Sociedad on Sunday night.
Before that, the weekend’s action gets underway at the legendary El Sadar on Friday night as high-flying CA Osasuna take on Granada CF. Now that there are no limits on capacity, Osasuna will be able to fill the stands with their famously passionate supporters at their new-look ground, which was redeveloped during the pandemic. Those fans are certainly enjoying the start to the season, with their team flying high in fifth place.
Kicking off Saturday’s action are Valencia CF, who will be looking to end a five-match winless run when RCD Mallorca make the short trip across the Mediterranean Sea to the Spanish mainland. Later that afternoon, Cádiz CF and D. Alavés meet in search of three points that would propel either side away from the bottom of the table. Neither club has had a particularly great start to the campaign, with only one win each, so both sides know this is a big opportunity. Elche CF and RCD Espanyol are both a little higher up in mid-table, but their meeting on Saturday evening is no less important as they face off for the first time in over six years.
This weekend’s Saturday night fixture is Athletic Club vs Villarreal CF, which sees Athletic coach Marcelino welcoming one of his former clubs to Bilbao. There is always something special about a game under the floodlights at San Mamés and this should be an evenly matched affair; both their meetings last season finished 1-1. With both clubs boasting some of the best Spanish talent around, this is certainly one that La Roja coach Luis Enrique will be paying attention to as well.
ElClásico Sunday gets up and running with Sevilla FC vs Levante UD under the Andalusian sun. It required a stoppage time winner from Youssef En-Nesyri for Sevilla to win this fixture last season and Julen Lopetegui would sign up for another three points right now as his men look to keep up their title challenge, while new Granotas coach Javier Pereira searches for his club’s first victory of the season.
Then at 4.15pm CEST it’s time for ElClasico at the Camp Nou. Real Madrid have won the past three meetings against their historic rivals, yet they haven’t won four in a row since 1965. Barça certainly won’t want that to happen in front of their home fans and they’ll take their seats at the Camp Nou with the belief and hope that Ansu Fati can lead the Blaugrana to a famous victory. The teenager, who scored in this fixture last season to become the youngest ever ElClasico scorer, has returned from a long-term injury and has hit the ground running, netting great goals at home to Levante and Valencia. Now he’ll hope for an ElClásico strike and three points to get Barça’s season well and truly up and running. Karim Benzema and Vinícius Jr, though, are in great form too and have 18 goals between them already this campaign from just 11 total outings so far.
This is also the first ElClásico meeting between Ronald Koeman and Carlo Ancelotti, even if they’ve each coached in this fixture previously. The two tacticians have actually met in their coaching careers, back in 2003 when in charge at Ajax and AC Milan respectively, but they haven’t crossed paths since then. This Sunday they’ll look to win a tactical chess match and their decisions could be key to the result of this game and, ultimately, in the title race. It should be as thrilling as ElClásico always is, with just one goalless draw in their past 50 meetings. Expect goals!
Later, on Sunday evening, Real Betis vs Rayo Vallecano follows up ElClásico, an interesting encounter between two teams with offensive philosophies and currently separated by just one point in the table.
Then comes another huge game at 9pm CEST as Atlético de Madrid host Real Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano. The reigning champions will face a La Real side that has climbed to the top of the table with great play and great resilience, overcoming an early season injury crisis. If Real Sociedad can earn a positive result in the Spanish capital, they’ll have demonstrated that they are serious title challengers.
On Monday, there is one more match to round off the weekend as Getafe CF search for their first win of the year at home to RC Celta. This will mark Quique Sánchez Flores’ return to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, having re-taken the reins at his former club to take on the challenge of avoiding relegation.
Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on BeINSports