From João Pessoa to LaLiga: the story of Matheus Cunha, Atleti’s new striker

The 22-year-old Brazilian reinforces the attack of the current champion of LaLiga Santander motivated by the Olympic gold medal won in Tokyo

Atletico de Madrid announced this Wednesday (August 25) the hiring of striker Matheus Cunha. The 22-year-old Brazilian arrives from German side Hertha Berlin in high spirits after winning the gold medal for the Brazilian team at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Atleti will be Cunha’s fourth professional club, who was born in João Pessoa and shone in local futsal before attracting the attention of Coritiba, a club from the southern region of Brazil. After standing out in the 2016 edition of the traditional Copa São Paulo de Futebol Junior, the striker caught the attention of Swiss Sion, who hired and professionalized him at the beginning of the 2017/2018 season.
In his only season in Switzerland, Matheus Cunha finished the season as the team’s top scorer, with 10 goals in 29 games, including a hat-trick and the country’s best player award in October. His excellent performance drew the intention of clubs from major leagues, with the athlete signing with RB Leipzig in June 2018.
In his first season in Germany, Cunha made a good attacking duo with Timo Werner and stood out to the point of competing for the Puskas Award, a bonus that FIFA gives to the scorer of the most beautiful goal of the season, after the striker scored a great goal against Bayer Leverkusen in April 2019.
His performance in Leipzig attracted the interest of the Brazilian team, which was getting ready to fight for a place in the Tokyo Olympic Games. His first call to the team came in June 2019, for the prestigious Toulon Tournament, in France. In the championship, Cunha helped Brazil win the title by being the top scorer in the competition, with four goals.
On the final day of the winter 2020 transfer market, Matheus Cunha was signed by Hertha Berlin, where he quickly became the main offensive player for the capital city side. His transfer did not change his prestige with the Brazilian Olympic team, since, with Cunha’s help, the team also managed to get, in January, a place for the Tokyo Games.
And it was in Tokyo that the athlete got the biggest title of his career so far. With three goals in the competition (including the first in the victory over Spain in the final in Yokohama), Matheus Cunha was one of the most important pieces of Brazil’s second consecutive Olympic title. His performance caught the attention of the coach of the Brazilian national team, Tite, who called him up for the matches of the next round of the South American Qualifiers for the World Cup.
Now Matheus Cunha arrives at the current champion of LaLiga Santander to continue his meteoric growth in his career at a club eager to keep last season’s title and achieve much more.
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LaLiga Matchday 3 preview: Mouth-watering clashes between last season’s top seven

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Two especially fascinating matches are coming up in LaLiga Santander this weekend, with the 10pm CEST kick-offs on Saturday and Sunday serving up clashes between sides who all finished in the top seven last season and who’ll be competing in Europe this year. On Saturday, we have last season’s sixth-placed side Real Betis hosting second-placed Real Madrid in the final fixture of the day and then, on Sunday, champioins Atlético de Madrid welcome seventh-placed Villarreal CF to the Spanish capital.
Matchday 3 begins with a Friday night double header. First, there’s a meeting between the top two sides of last season’s LaLiga SmartBank, who both earned promotion with 82 points: RCD Mallorca host their promotion companions RCD Espanyol. Later on Friday night, Valencia CF face D. Alavés, as José Bordalás, the new boss of Los Che, takes on one of his former clubs.
Saturday’s action begins in Galicia with RC Celta vs Athletic Club, two clubs who fell just short of European qualification last season but who are both aspiring to return to the continent now that their coaches Eduardo Coudet and Marcelino have a full season at the helm.
There are two 7.30pm CEST kick-offs on Saturday, one of which sees top-of-the-table Sevilla FC travel to Elche CF as they aim to continue their bright start. The Andalusian side lost this fixture last season during the title race run-in, so will know the dangers that Fran Escribá’s men pose. But, with new signing Erik Lamela having already netted three goals, and with fellow new arrival Rafa Mir creating the winner last time out, confidence is high at Sevilla.  
The other of the Saturday evening games is Real Sociedad vs Levante UD, two teams who like to attack. La Real have scored three goals so far and conceded four, while Levante have scored four and conceded four, so goals should be expected in this one given these two teams’ attacking philosophies.
At 10pm CEST on Saturday comes Real Betis vs Real Madrid. This is a huge fixture, mirroring the same encounter at the same stage of last season – when Real Madrid edged a thrilling 3-2 contest. No matter what the score is this time around, Saturday’s meeting promises to be even more exciting because of the return of fans to the Benito Villamarín, famously one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Spain and Europe.
FC Barcelona will get Sunday’s slate of fixtures going when they welcome Getafe CF to the Camp Nou at 17:00 CEST. With Barça missing a few players for this fixture, this could be a tricky test for the Blaugrana and Ronald Koeman may have to trust some of his rising stars against a Getafeside who have played better than their record of two defeats from two suggests.
Cádiz CF vs CA Osasuna and Rayo Vallecano vs Granada CF both follow on in the 7.30pm CEST time slot on Sunday evening, with all four of these clubs aware that the primary goal for this season is to secure their status in LaLiga Santander for next season. There are some very interesting stylistic aspects to look out for in these couple of fixtures, such as Osasuna’s determination to fit as many forwards into their XI as possible this season, or the evolution of Granada’s new 4-3-3 formation under new coach Robert Moreno.
After that double header, Matchday 3 reaches its conclusion at 10pm CEST on Sunday night with Atlético de Madrid vs Villarreal CF, a clash of two sides who’ll be present in the Champions League group stages this year. This fixture was a draw last year and, looking at their previous 15 meetings, there have been five wins each and five draws. It promises to be a very competitive matchup at the Wanda Metropolitano, one which could be decided by a moment of quality from star forwards Luis Suárez or Gerard Moreno, or from new signings Matheus Cunha and Arnaut Danjuma. With fans in the stands cheering on Los Rojiblancos, this could be an epic night of LaLiga Santander football.
Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on BeINSports
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More than 100 influencers across the world celebrate the return of LaLiga

Social media posts by celebrities about the start of the 2021-22 season have reached 330 million impressions   
Madrid, 19 August, 2021. – ‘Ready to sing again!’ is the claim with which LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank have welcomed in the 2021-22 season. The start of the competition has not only been marked by the return of fans to stadiums, but also by the celebration of millions of followers on social media.
ACCELERATE, the official LaLiga ball designed by PUMA for this season, has featured on the profiles of more than 100 influencers around the world, including Andres Iniesta in Japan, international viral phenomenon Khabi, and Bruno Gagliasso, one of the best-known actors in Brazil with more than 20 million followers.
Well-known personalities from the world of sports, culture and gastronomy have participated in the most special unboxing in the history of the competition and posts with the hashtag #PlayLaLigaSantander have had more than 330 million impressions, with a reach of over 291 million users.
Drone-delivered balls and personalised objects featuring the ACCELERATE design
As a new feature for this season, some of the match balls were delivered by air. In Mexico, Thailand, and Uzbekistan several protagonists of the campaign saw their box descend from the sky on board a drone.
–      My Mate Nate (Content creator, Thailand)
–      ‘Shadsway’ – Amirbek Shadmanov (Influencer, Uzbekistan)
–      Mercedes Roa (TikToker, Mexico)
In addition to the now annual distribution of match balls, LaLiga has also used the ACCELERATE design in different objects dedicated to personalities from the world of sports, culture and gastronomy.
–      Racing driver helmet: Carlos Sainz (Spain) & Hafizh Syahrin (Malaysia)
–      ACCELERATE cake: Cristina Pedroche & Dabiz Muñoz (Spain)
–      Yoga mat: Esha Gupta (India)
–      Boxing gloves: Abdu Rozik (Tajikistan)
–      Gaming chair: Sergio Agüero (Spain)
–      Maté: Juan Monaco (Argentina)
–      Cricket ball: Rohit Sharma (India)
–      Skateboard: Isamu Yamamoto (Professional skateboarder, Japan)
–      Gaming Headset: AboFlah (Kuwait)
The campaign has generated over 330 million impressions
Over the last four years, the list of non-sports figures who have joined LaLiga in welcoming in the new LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank seasons has not stopped growing. Their involvement has been key to raising awareness and impact of a landmark date that is of great importance for football fans around the world.
The kick-off campaign for this new season represents LaLiga’s commitment to connecting with new generations through entertainment, technology, and emotion. This year’s campaign has generated over 330 million impressions so far, involving more than 100 influencers across five continents.
In this video you can see a summary of the posts for the LaLiga 2021-22 season unboxing.
Some of the most well-known figures to have shared the initiative on their social profiles are:
–          Carlos Sainz (Racing driver, Spain)
–          Julia Menu Garcia (Spanish TikToker with over 21 million followers)
–          Adricontreras4 (TikToker, Spain)
–          Camilo (Singer-songwriter and producer, Colombia)
–          Marcel Gurk (Freestyler, Germany)
–          Harriet Pavlou (Freestyler, United Kingdom)
–          Esha Gupta (Actress and model, India)
–          Karan Wahi (Presenter, India)
–          Giorgino Abraham (Actor, Indonesia)
–          Hafizh Syahrin (Motorcycle racer, Malaysia)
–          Isamu Yamamoto (Professional skateboarder, Japan):
–          Abdu Rozik (Viral influencer, Tajikistan)
–          Sophie Rodriguez (Chef, Costa Rica)
–          Joey Montana (Singer, Panama):
–          Peter Okoye (Musician and influencer, Nigeria)
–          Ali Nuhu (Actor, Nigeria)
–          Teko (Content creator, South Africa)
–          Yara (Singer, Lebanon)
–          AboFlah (Content creator, Kuwait)
–          Dala El Mohands (Fashionista, Egypt)
–          Get-together in Morocco with 10 local influencersto celebrate the start of the competition.
KESI LaLiga Versión Oficial: Football and music, united by emotion
For this new season, LaLiga has also opted for music to add extra spice to the competition, coming up with a song which will set the rhythm to matches through the campaign: KESI LaLiga Versión Oficial. The song was written by international singer-songwriter, musician, and producer Camilo; the video has already attracted almost two million views.
If there’s something that LaLiga and music have in common, it’s the passion they inspire in people. Football, like music, can emotionally move people; they are powerful tools for evoking emotions of all kinds. Together, they are an unstoppable force.
Check out the KESI LaLiga Versión Oficial video here:
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Born to Score: Vini Jr

The Brazilian winger has kicked off the season in sensational form, finding the back of the net three times in just 55 minutes of football.

Real Madrid’s mercurial youngster has started the season with a bang. Three goals in just two games see him sit top of the LaLiga Santander goal scoring charts, on par with fellow South Americans Angel Correa and Erik Lamela.
On Matchday 2, Vini Jr scored twice against Levante UD to earn his side a dramatic draw at the Ciutat de Valencia, a bit of a bogey stadium for Los Blancos in recent seasons. His first was a work of art, rounding off a sensational pass from Casemiro with a mazy run and finish to make it 2-2. His second made it 3-3, controlling perfectly and finishing past Levante keeper Aitor Fernandez to ensure his side went home with a point. 
Vini Jr is now in his fourth season at Real Madrid in LaLiga Santander. He first wore the famous white shirt in 2018/19, while also earning playing experience at reserve side Real Madrid Castilla. In 2019/20 he established himself in the first team, playing 29 matches and scoring three. 2020/21 saw him score another three goals, a number he has already matched just a few weeks into this season, the 91st in LaLiga’s history.
He’s not just Real Madrid’s top scorer this season, he’s also by the most efficient, with three goals in just 55 minutes of football. Three goals from four attempts on goal, one of them a header against D. Alaves on Matchday 1. He’s also chipped in with hard work despite not starting either game so far this campaign, winning five duels.
Still just 21 years old, Vini Jr’s best years are ahead of him. He plays each game as if it were his last, and he looks on track to become true LaLiga Santander star this season
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