Real Sociedad vs Athletic Club: A Basque derby at the heart of the title race

La Real face one of their toughest challenges yet, with Athletic determined to derail their rivals’ title challenge.

Real Sociedad have enjoyed an excellent start to the 2021/22 campaign, responding to their opening weekend defeat at Barcelona by stringing several wins together and climbing to the very top of the LaLiga Santander standings. The team from San Sebastián finished Matchday 8 and Matchday 9 in first position, announcing their title candidacy after several seasons of evolution under coach Imanol Alguacil.

This weekend, though, Real Sociedad have what may be their toughest test yet. They have the Basque derby against regional rivals Athletic Club on Sunday night, under the floodlights at 21:00 CET. It should be a special occasion in front of their home fans at the Reale Arena.

The side from Bilbao have had a good start to the season too and are just a few points behind the title challengers with a quarter of this LaLiga Santander campaign in the books. Marcelino has built a solid team in his 10 months on the job and they have only lost one match so far this season. If Athletic had turned some of their draws into victories, they too would be pushing for first position in the table.

With both Basque sides so high up the table, this will be one of the most important Basque derbies in several years. Real Sociedad fans are starting to dream of a first LaLiga Santander title since their back-to-back championships of 1980/81 and 1981/82, while Athletic Club supporters are convinced that this is the season they’ll return to Europe after a four-year absence.

Historically, this fixture has often been at the heart of the title race. The last time La Real were serious title challengers, in 2002/03, Athletic Club thrashed their rivals 3-0 in Bilbao when La Real were top of the standings, with this result ultimately costing the Txuri-Urdin and allowing Real Madrid to sneak that year’s championship by two points.

Spooling further back, to when Spanish football was dominated by these two clubs at the start of the 1980s, Real Sociedad won the league title in 1981/82 by defeating Athletic Club 2-1 on the final day of the season, before Athletic Club earned a 2-1 title-clinching derby win of their own two years later.

This weekend’s match won’t be so decisive, whatever the result is, as there is a long season still ahead. But, this might still be the Basque derby with the greatest title race implications in several years.

Athletic Club’s motivation for revenge

The players will be well used to the pressure, given that arguably the most important Basque derby ever took place earlier this year. On April 3rd of 2021, Athletic Club and Real Sociedad met at La Cartuja in Seville for the 2019/20 Copa del Rey final, a showdown that had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. That only increased the sense of expectation for this huge derby final.

Neither team wanted to lose, but somebody had to and, with Mikel Oyarzabal’s penalty proving to be the only goal of the game, La Real won the cup to end a trophy drought that had lasted since 1987.

Athletic Club will want some revenge for that heartbreaking loss when they take on their historic foes this weekend. They actually had a rematch just days after the cup final, which finished 1-1, but now Los Leones will relish the opportunity to deal Real Sociedad’s title aspirations a significant blow.

Besides the potential for revenge, Athletic Club will want to triumph in this weekend’s derby so that they can remember the winning feeling as they haven’t tasted victory in any of the past four matches against La Real. In addition to the draw and cup final defeat of April, Athletic Club lost the previous two Basque derbies. Not since August of 2019 have they won one. For the fans in Bilbao, that’s too long.

Familiar faces on both sides

While Real Sociedad and Athletic Club’s rivalry is one of the biggest in LaLiga Santander, there is always great respect between these teams and the players. Even if it’s still quite rare, at least at the senior level, some players even switch clubs and there will be a few participants this weekend who have experience of wearing the other colour of stripes.

In the Real Sociedad squad, starting goalkeeper Álex Remiro moved directly between Bilbao and San Sebastián in 2019, signing with La Real after his contract at San Mamés expired. He’ll know the Athletic Club forwards well and will hope to put his inside knowledge to good use.

As for Athletic Club, they pulled off a coup in the winter window of 2018 by signing Iñigo Martínez from their rivals through the triggering of the star centre-back’s release clause. That didn’t sit well with fans of the Txuri-Urdin, nor does the fact that current Athletic Club players Alex Petxarroman, Yuri Berchiche, Mikel Balenziaga and Dani García have Real Sociedad pasts too. 

This Sunday night, though, it’s all about the current colours as the blue and white stripes of Real Sociedad take on the red and white stripes of Athletic Club.

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Whether it’s residential, commercial or industrial, co-create Tomorrow & Beyond with EcoWorld

Since January 2021, EcoWorld and iMedia have been at the forefront in supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs via the Bina Bersama 2021 campaign, which helps shortlisted SME businesses build their digital awareness with grant giveaways totaling RM1 million* worth of media advertising. Both EcoWorld and iMedia are conscious of the difficulties faced by business owners and entrepreneurs when trying to get exposure for products and service, all while competing with established players in the market with bigger budgets and platforms.

By being a part of this campaign, SMEs and local businesses are given the opportunity to advertise online for free through platforms such as Oh! Media, Goody25, Newswav, ITTIFY and more – which combined have a total unique visitor count of more than 2.9 million! As of today, the Bina Bersama 2021 campaign has reached an incredible 90% take-up rate across the Klang Valley, Johor Bahru and Penang. EcoWorld and iMedia are looking to distribute the remaining ad grant before year end.

Aside from crafting programmes to benefit and grow local SMEs, EcoWorld has also launched its latest marketing campaign – Together We Create. It explores the unique co-creation concept that evolves around its customers. This approach will see EcoWorld providing design concepts and green innovations while also taking customers’ wants and dreams into consideration to create a place and community for generations.

In keeping its goal of being a responsible business, EcoWorld intends to be there for its customers – every step of their journey. From choosing a dream home to post-purchase services, EcoWorld takes into account every need so that at the end of the day, customers walk away with more than just a building.

Together We Create Joyful Living  

Through EcoWorld’s extensive research and consumer insights, they’ve found out that there is a need for homes catering to first-time homebuyers, young families, and families who want to be near each other yet not living under the same roof. With that, the concepts of Co-Home and ErgoHomes were brought to life.

With the growing demand for homes that suit multi-generational living, EcoWorld’s Co-Home offers a hybrid living concept consisting of affordable landed homes. These 2-storey terraced homes are split into two units with the same footprint making it perfect for families to live close to each other without forgoing each families’ personal space.

ErgoHomes on the other hand, strays from the usual terrace houses as each unit is designed and built as a corner unit. Inspired by the science of ergonomics and the idea of efficient space planning, these landed properties are spacious yet affordable, especially for newlyweds and young families.

Alternatively, EcoWorld’s collection of Garden Homes is an innovative home unit where you can enjoy both indoor and outdoor living lifestyles. Garden Homes at Eco Grandeur has a 5-feet* side garden that can be transformed into a mini zen garden or relaxation spot. The Garden Homes at Eco Botanic has a 10-feet* lifestyle porch with stunning views of both front and back gardens and can be converted into an indoor WFH space, entertainment area, kids play area, or even an outdoor BBQ and dining area! Not to forget a 20-feet* to 30-feet* Backlane Garden where kids can enjoy the outdoors without the presence of cars and other vehicles in this car-free zone.

Garden Homes are now available at Eco Grandeur @ Klang Valley and Eco Botanic @ Iskandar Malaysia. Contact Eco Grandeur’s Sales Representative or Eco Botanic’s Sales Representative for more details.

Eco Horizon’s Semi-D and Bungalow homes come with a flexible layout that allows the maximisation of space for big families and guests. Enjoy both indoor and outdoor living with private greenery and a beautiful and spacious backlane garden. Aside from having exclusive clubhouse facilities, all of Eco Horizon’s residential precincts are gated and guarded with security and 360-degree CCTV. Get to know more about these Semi-D and Bungalow homes located in the serene neighbourhood of Eco Horizon by contacting Eco Horizon’s Sales Representative.

Together We Create Thriving Communities 

Together We Create isn’t only for homebuyers; businesses can also be part of the community. Aside from a much sought-after premium business addresses, operating an enterprise at EcoWorld’s locations will provide your venture with the right network, connectivity, innovation and sustainability for a successful business.

Together We Create Sustainable Businesses

With townships that are always growing and evolving, young entrepreneurs and business owners are carving their paths at EcoWorld’s business parks. When it comes to industrial products, EcoWorld’s elite Eco Business Park (EBP) team is made up of professionals that are well-versed and experienced in providing one-stop business solutions. Aside from having high-speed broadband and telecommunications infrastructure, EBP is also a low-carbon footprint product designed to achieve cross-ventilation and natural daylight optimisation to save on electricity usage. 

Eco Business Park I is a unified industrial hub in Tebrau that offers a flexi space concept for businesses with a whole floor loading of 10kN/m2, making it perfect for corporate offices, retailing, showrooms, warehousing and more. Each unit comes with energy-efficient skylights to reduce the need for artificial lighting. EBP I is also designed to allow owners to expand the mezzanine floor for future needs. Learn more about EBP by contacting Eco Business Park I’s Sales Representative.

If you are looking for a Dream Home Package or a Business Launchpad Package with EcoWorld, you are at the right place. Take the first step today to co-create your future with EcoWorld. Together We Create sustainable places for you and your loved ones, for generations. Book an appointment now at your preferred EcoWorld location HERE.

*Terms & Conditions Apply

Real Madrid and FC Barcelona fans in Malaysia, an example of fair play

Supporters of both LaLiga clubs joined together at an event in Kuala Lumpur to watch El Clásico match. 

The most exciting match of the season was experienced in a very special way in Malaysia, where Real Madrid and FC Barcelona fans gathered to enjoy the match.  The event took place at The Paddock at Hawkers Ave, and was attended by around 150 football fans from fan clubs of both LaLiga clubs. The fans watched the match on a giant screen and took part in a draw to win shirts from both teams. The match could be seen from 10:15pm local time on BeINSports.

After the restrictions caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, physical events are starting to take place and are experienced in an even more special way, because of the impossibility of being together all this time. “It was an eventful evening. Both fanclubs recorded full attendance and what a night it was. And we would like to extend our gratitude for the sponsored merchandise by La Liga. Both fanbase went along lively, in both friendship and rivalry sense. We will continue to be so, and we look forward for more joint future events,” said Faizal bin Mat zin, president of Peña madridista Malaysia. 

“We are very proud of the passion with which football and a match like this is experienced in Malaysia. It is the most exciting sporting spectacle, a total rivalry on the pitch and a total cordiality between the fans of both teams in Malaysia, an example of sportsmanship and knowing how to enjoy the spectacle of this event organised by the fan clubs of both teams, enjoying together the best football in the world”, added Adrián Prol, LaLiga delegate in Malaysia, about the activity.  

The first El Clasico of the season took place at Camp Nou, finally with the public cheering in the stadium and the most spectacular audiovisual broadcast for the whole world. The match features a 4K-HDR production, 32 cameras in total, including 10 super slow motion, 4 High Speed, 6 Super Slow Motion, 2 Cinematic Camera s(which create a cinematographic effect and act as FanCam), 2 Pole Cam (located behind the goals), 2 cameras to follow the relevant players, 1 Aerial Camera (a zenithal camera located 21 metres above the ground), 1 helicopter and a drone. The broadcast also features Live 3D Graphics (LaLiga is the only national competition in the world to use the innovative Live 3D Graphics technology to generate virtual graphics in the broadcast) and REPLAY 360º technology (which uses 38 Ultra High Definition cameras around the stadium to create volumetric 360º videos for spectacular replays).  

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LaLiga Santander Matchday 11 preview: FC Barcelona and Real Madrid set for big nights in the Spanish capital

Matchday 10 of the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season produced a season-record goal haul as of Sunday night, including the three strikes in Real Madrid’s 2-1 ElClásico victory over FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou. And there’s no let-up in the LaLiga calendar now, with Matchday 11 set to be played in midweek across Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

The action gets underway on Tuesday evening with D. Alavés vs Elche CF, a match which pits together two sides who only just avoided relegation last campaign and are looking to make a stronger start this term. RCD Espanyol vs Athletic Club follows later on Tuesday night, with these two founding members of LaLiga to take part in their 171st league meeting.

Tuesday night is rounded off by Villarreal CF vs Cádiz CF, a fixture that stands out as one of the few matches in club football featuring two sides known for their distinctive yellow kits. Neither side has started the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season as well as they would have liked, so this will be an opportunity to put points on the board.

On Wednesday, there are two early games at the timeslot of 7pm CEST. One is RCD Mallorca vs Sevilla FC, as Julen Lopetegui’s men look to continue their strong start to the season against the newly promoted islanders. The second fixture also involves a team that just came up from LaLiga SmartBank: Rayo Vallecano welcome FC Barcelona to the neighbourhood of Vallecas in the Spanish capital. Rayo coach Andoni Iraola has built a fun and effective squad at Rayo, and they actually come into this match one point ahead of Ronald Koeman’s Barça in the standings.

At 8pm CEST on this busy Wednesday night of Spanish football, two of the country’s biggest clubs come together in Real Betis vs Valencia CF. After the former started this season slowly and the latter started well, their fortunes have changed and now the Verdiblancos are up to fifth, while Valencia haven’t won in six.

Wednesday night throws up one final game, as football returns to the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu at 9.30pm CEST after almost a month of Real Madrid playing on the road. They’ll face high-flying CA Osasuna on their homecoming, which is a game to be wary of since the Rojillos have won all four of their away matches so far this campaign.

Three more games follow on Thursday, starting with LaLiga Santander leaders Real Sociedad and their trip to Spain’s north-western coast to face RC Celta. This is a fixture La Real won 4-1 last season and they’d love a repeat of that scoreline this time out.

Granada CF vs Getafe CF pits together two recent Europa League participants who now look to be facing an early-season relegation battle, before Matchday 11 concludes with Levante UD vs Atlético de Madrid. Even though Atleti won the title last season, Levante proved to be a bogey side for Simeone’s men, winning 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano and drawing 1-1 at the Ciutat de Valencia. Come this Thursday (9.30pm CEST), Atleti will try to do what they couldn’t manage last season and get some points on the board against the Valencians.

Watch LaLiga Santander live this midweek on BeINSports

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This Week in LaLiga…

What has been going on in LaLiga this past week? From the first ElClasico of the season to a brand-new contract for one of world football’s biggest rising stars, here’s all you need to know.

Real Madrid triumph in El Clásico

Real Madrid came out on top in the first ElClásico of the 2021/22 season, winning 2-1 in a thrilling contest at the Camp Nou. David Alaba’s first goal for Los Blancos was timely and brilliant, before Lucas Vázquez and Sergio Agüero traded stoppage time goals for the 2-1 final score. This is the fourth ElClásico win in a row for Real Madrid, the first time this has happened since 1965.

Sevilla win an eight-goal thriller

Sevilla vs Levante kicked off Sunday’s action with an end-to-end match that produced eight goals, the home side winning 5-3. There were seven different scorers in the game, with only José Luis Morales, Levante captain and all-time top scorer in LaLiga Santander, netting more than once.

A weekend with 35 goals

From start to finish, this was a weekend of goals in LaLiga Santander. 35 goals went in over the first nine fixtures of Matchday 10, with every team netting at least one except Cádiz CF, who lost 2-0 to D. Alavés. This is already the highest scoring round of the 2021/22 season, with a Monday night fixture between Getafe CF and RC Celta still to come.

Real Sociedad stay top of LaLiga Santander

Still at the top of the standings are Real Sociedad, who earned an impressive 2-2 draw away at Atlético de Madrid on Sunday night. The Basque side’s ‘Two Alexanders’ scored the goals, with one for Sørloth and one for Isak, before a Luis Suárez brace levelled the scoreline for the defending champions.

A European win for La Real too

Real Sociedad also earned a positive result in Europe in midweek, defeating Strum Graz 1-0 away from home in the Europa League. In the same competition, Real Betis played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.

Spanish victories in the Champions League

In the Champions League, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Villarreal defeated Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kyiv and Young Boys respectively, while Sevilla drew at French champions Lille and Atlético narrowly lost a close thriller to Liverpool.

Ansu Fati’s new Barcelona contract

Ansu Fati has signed a new contract with Barcelona, committing to the Catalan club until 2027. This is great news for the Blaugrana, who have great expectations for one of world football’s best young talents. Coming just a week after Pedri agreed his own new deal, this latest contract extension is something for Barça fans to smile about.

Cádiz’s young star commits to a long-term deal too

At Cádiz, they’re celebrating a contract extension too. 17-year-old midfielder Álvaro Bastida has put pen to paper on a new deal that will run until 2026, which is great news for the Andalusian club as Bastida is one of the top talents to have emerged from their academy in recent years. Already, despite his young age, Bastida is part of the first-team setup.

A new deal for Fidel

Another player to sign a new contract this past week was Elche winger Fidel. The 31-year-old, who first joined the club in 2012 and who is a club captain, has agreed to a two-year extension that means his deal now runs until the summer of 2024.

Midweek action across LaLiga Santander

There’s no let-up in the LaLiga calendar, with Matchday 11 being played in midweek across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There are some fascinating games scheduled, such as Real Madrid’s home match against an Osasuna side with just two points fewer, or Barcelona’s visit to a Rayo Vallecano side who sit one point ahead of them.

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LaLiga and world football braces itself for the first ElClasico of the season

Free scoring stars Ansu Fati, Memphis, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr will lead the lines in the long-awaited return of ElClasico at Camp Nou. 

This Sunday’s clash (4.15pm CEST) will be the first ElClasico with a capacity crowd since the start of the pandemic.

The first ElClásico of the season is just around the corner, with FC Barcelona set to take on Real Madrid at Camp Nou this Sunday at 4.15pm CEST. Notably, this will be the long-awaited first meeting between these sides with supporters in the stands since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, ever since Vinicius and Mariano fired Los Blancos to a 2-0 home win in front of a packed Santiago Bernabeu back in March 2020.

Real Madrid come into this encounter on the back of two consecutive ElClasico wins. The first was almost exactly a year to the day since this weekend’s clash, winning 3-1 at an empty Camp Nou in October 2020. After Fede Valverde and Ansu Fati had produced early fireworks with strikes inside the opening 10 minutes, goals from Sergio Ramos and Luka Modrić saw Real Madrid collect all three points.

Six months later they met again under a downpour at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, with Real Madrid edging a thrilling battle 2-1 as Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos’ first half goals proved too much for the Blaugrana, even if they pulled one back through Óscar Mingueza and pushed for an equaliser until the final minute.

Those wins have made it three ElClásico victories in a row for Real Madrid, who hadn’t won back-to-back-to-back matches against their historic rivals since 1978. They haven’t won four in a row since 1965 but will be looking to achieve exactly that when the ball gets rolling this Sunday.

Ansu Fati and Memphis vs Vinícius and Benzema

Barcelona and Real Madrid will be led up front by Ansu Fati & Memphis Depay and Vinícius & Karim Benzema, respectively. The four have started the current LaLiga season like a house on fire, proving themselves to be among the elite group of forward in world football right now. Memphis has already notched four goals in his first ever season in Spanish football, while Vinicius has hit five and laid to rest any doubts about his claims for a starting spot in Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Karim Benzema has scored nine in just eight appearances, showing no signs of slowing down, while Ansu Fati has immediately dazzled following his return from long-term injury, firing in great goals against Levante and Valencia in just a few weeks. By the time Sunday’s match comes around, the 18-year-old will be close to full fitness and be looking to make his mark on the game.

Injury concerns for Barça

All signs point to Koeman being unable to call on three key players this weekend. 18-year-old sensation Pedri, who recently signed a new-long term deal at Camp Nou until 2026, is suffering with a persistent thigh injury and won’t be rushed back for the game – sensibly, bearing in mind the number of games he has played over the last calendar year and the fact that he played through the summer, first at Euro 2020 and then at the Tokyo Olympics.

Also likely to miss out are centre-back Ronald Araujo, who picked up a hamstring injury on international duty with Uruguay, and Ousmane Dembele, who is back in training but yet to play this season after surgery in the summer.

18 years later… Koeman and Ancelotti meet again

Keep an eye on the tactical tussle this Sunday. Ronald Koeman has experimented with different systems already this campaign, oscillating between Barça’s traditional 4-3-3, 3-1-4-2 and 3-4-2-1. Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, has implemented a more attacking style of football since taking over the Real Madrid job in the summer – and Los Blancos have scored the goals to vindicate his decision.

The Dutchman and Italian have some parallels to their careers. Both won the European Cup as players, and league titles with multiple clubs as coaches. They met on one occasion during their playing days in a goalless draw between the Netherlands and Italy in 1990, and then took each other on four times as coaches when Ajax and AC Milan met in back-to-back Champions League seasons in 2002/03 and 2003/04. One draw and three AC Milan victories means Koeman is still looking for his first managerial win over Ancelotti, and where better to break that duck than in ElClasico, the biggest club match in world football.

The 183rd LaLiga Santander Clásico

This Sunday’s game will be the 183rd meeting between these two clubs in Spain’s top division, with Barcelona and Real Madrid having met in every single one of the 90 LaLiga Santander seasons to date, with neither side having ever been relegated from the country’s top tier.

Real Madrid edge the overall record thanks to their three recent victories, having now won 75 of the 182 previous league meetings, while Barça have triumphed 72 times alongside 35 draws. To say this rivalry has been finely balanced over the year would be an understatement.

Watch ElClasico live this Sunday on BeINSports at 10:15pm

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LaLiga Santander Matchday 10 preview: ElClasico is back!

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

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Potential ElClasico debutants

ElClasico is the game with the most and the best stars ever in football history. Both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona reinforced their squads over the summer, and up to six new players may well make their debuts in the legendary ElClasico

From their very first kick of a ball, every professional footballer dreams of playing in the biggest matches. There’s no doubt that the LaLiga Santander ElClasico is one of those, and one which all lovers of the beautiful game eagerly anticipate. Throughout history, some of the best players of all time have had the opportunity to represent FC Barcelona, Real Madrid – or both – in a match that never ceases to excite and compel.

Both Los Merengues and Los Cules made signings in the summer, and on October 24 several of them will have the opportunity and the honour of being able to make their ElClasico debuts. Up to six players could make their debut:

Memphis Depay:

The Dutch star came to LaLiga Santander with the intention of making his mark at Barcelona. He’d always dreamt of representing the club and soon he’ll get the chance to shine in ElClasico. The 27-year-old has hit the ground running and is one of the league’s most in-form attackers. He’s known for his exceptional talent, goalscoring ability, assist providing, plus the ability to conjure something out of thin air. There’s no doubt that FC Barcelona’s acquisition of Memphis could be decisive in what will be a showstopping afternoon at the Camp Nou, at 4:15PM on October 24.

Eric García:

Eric Garcia is a Barcelona boy through and through. The young centre-back from Martorell came through the club’s academy where he did in fact play against Real Madrid. He impressed at every stage of his development, captaining every La Masia side he featured in. He re-joined Barcelona this summer after the club saw in him a player that not only already possessed great quality as a youngster but could go on to form the heart of the club’s defence for years to come. It seems more than likely that Garcia will be making his ElClasico bow this season.

Luuk De Jong:

Luuk De Jong was a last-minute acquisition by Barcelona, joining on loan following a successful stint at Sevilla FC. The Dutch striker has come in to bolster the Barça attack, and will be keen to be among the goals for his new club. But will he manage to make it onto the scoresheet in his LaLiga Santander ElClasico debut?

Sergio Aguero:

Sergio Aguero, one of the best strikers in the history of the game, signed for FC Barcelona this summer. The Argentine is back in LaLiga Santander, where he’d already shone with Atletico Madrid. Bad luck with injuries is about to end, so he may well get his first chance to impress for FC Barcelona on October 24 in ElClasico.

Eduardo Camavinga:

Youth, self-confidence, quality, and power are just some of the hallmarks of Eduardo Camavinga. Real Madrid signed the midfielder with the aim that after bedding into the side he would go on to be a fixture in Los Blancos’ midfield in the coming seasons. Despite his tender years, the 18-year-old has already made quite the impact at his new club. He not only scored on his first appearance but has regularly pulled fans onto the edge of their seats with his class. There’s no doubt that this ElClasico will be the first of many for Camavinga

David Alaba:

29-year-old David Alaba joined Real Madrid during the last transfer window. The versatile Austrian footballer is keen to bring his experiences in elite football to the heart of Los Blancos’ back four. His performances so far this season for Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been of considerable merit. The next LaLiga Santander ElClasico will be a very special occasion for Alaba, as he’ll likely be making his maiden bow in this iconic clash. He’s a top-drawer player who his team will need in this kind of game.

Don’t miss ElClasico on October 24 at 10:15pm on the usual broadcaster: BeINSports

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Six key duels that could decide ElClasico

FC Barcelona and Real Madrid meet at Camp Nou this weekend (Sunday, 4.15pm CEST) in what is the most eagerly awaited club football clash in the world. Here are six direct match-ups which could well decide who takes home the points.

ElClasico is always such a tight contest and this weekend’s encounter could come down to a single individual battle on the chessboard that is the football pitch. Ahead of the meeting between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday, here comes a look at six duels that could prove decisive.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen vs Karim Benzema

Benzema is in terrific form and comes into ElClasico with nine goals from his eight LaLiga Santander appearances so far and after helping France to a Nations League triumph with his excellent performances in the Final Four. Real Madrid’s main man in attack appears to be unstoppable, but ter Stegen has managed to keep Benzema at bay over the years. In fact, the Frenchman has scored just twice across the 1,075 minutes they’ve shared on the pitch in previous ElClásico meetings. The number nine scored in their last encounter, however, in Los Blancos’ 2-1 win at Valdebebas last campaign.

Vinícius Jr vs Gerard Piqué

Benzema might be the primary goal scorer in this Real Madrid squad, but the player who seems to creates out of nothing is Vinícius and he’ll look to use his pace and trickery to get the better of Gerard Piqué. The Brazilian and the Spaniard are at opposite ends of their careers, so we’ll see youthful confidence going up against veteran experience and this could be key to the game’s outcome.

Frenkie de Jong vs Casemiro

As is so often the case in football, the key battles could be in the midfield – and keep a particular eye on the individual duel between Frenkie de Jong and Casemiro. These two players bring the energy to their respective midfields and are capable of playing their best football on the biggest occasions. Key to protecting their defences at the same time as getting forward to contribute to attack, de Jong and Casemiro are undoubtedly two of this fixture’s most important players.

Gavi vs Eduardo Camavinga

We might witness a glimpse into the future during this October’s ElClasico, with 17-year-old Gavi and 18-year-old Camavinga likely to earn some minutes at the Camp Nou. Both these players have caught the eye to start the 2021/22 campaign, with Gavi making an impact after emerging through Barça’s La Masia academy and with Camavinga hitting the ground running at Real Madrid following his summer transfer from Rennes. If these two players do feature in this game, perhaps off the bench, then they’ll likely occupy the same area of the pitch and their fresh legs in the final stages could prove decisive.

Ansu Fati vs David Alaba

There is great excitement at Barcelona at Ansu Fati’s comeback, after he returned from a 10-month injury layoff by scoring a goal against Levante on his first match back. The 18-year-old has inherited Lionel Messi’s iconic number ten shirt at Camp Nou and will be looking to score against Real Madrid, just as he did in this same fixture last year before his knee injury. Out to prevent the teenager from repeating last year’s trick is summer signing David Alaba, the experienced centre-back who has seamlessly slotted into Real Madrid’s back line. While Los Blancos’ defence has been leakier than Carlo Ancelotti would like, that’s not Alaba’s fault and the Austrian will be determined to earn a clean sheet in his first ElClasico.

Memphis Depay vs Thibaut Courtois

While ter Stegen vs Benzema is a duel we’ve enjoyed many times before, the upcoming battle between Thibaut Courtois and Memphis is a relatively novel one. They have only shared the pitch for 17 minutes in their careers, back in 2015/16 when they both played in English football, so this should be a special face-off between the goalkeeper and the forward at Camp Nou. Both players have started 2021/22 in good form and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the result of this ElClasico comes down to a one-on-one chance between the Dutchman and Belgian.

Watch ElClasico this Sunday at 10:15pm on BeINSports.

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ElClasico set to showcase some of the brightest young talent in world football

FC Barcelona face Real Madrid this Sunday (4.15pm CEST) in a clash which pits together some of the most exciting rising stars in football today. Here’s a look at some of the best talent to keep an eye on.

LaLiga Santander leads the way with more nominees for the 2021 Golden Boy than any other league, with Pedri, Gavi, Camavinga and Rodrygo all nominated alongside Villarreal’s mercurial 19-year-old Yeremi Pino.

There is something special about the Barcelona and Real Madrid squads this season: both clubs have many young talents earning serious minutes. Both are inside the top six when looking at the LaLiga Santander teams with the youngest average ages, demonstrating that Ronald Koeman and Carlo Ancelotti are both placing their trust in rising stars. Here’s a look at the up-and-coming talents at Barcelona and at Real Madrid in each position.  

In goals: Lunin and Peña have talent even if they lack minutes

In Marc-André ter Stegen and Thibaut Courtois, Barcelona and Real Madrid have two of the best goalkeepers in the world. That means it is incredibly difficult for up-and-coming shot-stoppers like Iñaki Peña and Andriy Lunin to earn minutes. Yet these young goalkeepers have impressed in training and with their national teams, with Peña having been involved at all youth levels for Spain and even making the senior team’s bench for one friendly, while Lunin has featured for Ukraine’s senior side on six occasions.

In defence: Both clubs already have their centre-backs of the future

Finding world-class centre-backs is one of the most difficult tasks in football, but both Barcelona and Real Madrid have young central defenders they believe in. Éder Militão’s excellent end to last season convinced Real Madrid that the 23-year-old Brazilian is already capable of leading their back line and he has started 2021/22 on the front foot too. Over in Barcelona, Koeman has been rotating between two young centre-backs to start the campaign as 20-year-old Eric García and 22-year-old Ronald Araújo have each shown promise.

Also in defence, there is excitement at both clubs over the promising young left-backs to have come through their respective academies. At Real Madrid, 20-year-old Miguel Gutiérrez has already earned 10 appearances for the first team after catching Zinedine Zidane’s eye and then earning further opportunities with Carlo Ancelotti. Barcelona, meanwhile, have high hopes for Alejandro Balde, the 17-year-old who sadly saw his first senior start end prematurely because of an injury. In 20-year-old Sergiño Dest, Barcelona also have a quality right-back to be excited about.

In midfield: The future has arrived with Valverde, Pedri, Camavinga and Gavi

The centre of the pitch is so important and both Barcelona and Real Madrid already have young midfielders who can lead their sides for many years to come. Nobody has made more appearances for Real Madrid so far this term than Fede Valverde, just like nobody had more appearances at Barcelona last year than Pedri’s 52. What was incredible about Pedri last season was that the 18-year-old had never before played at LaLiga Santander level, yet he immediately became one of the most important players for Barça and then for the Spanish national team.

This year, the Pedri story is being replicated with Gavi, who has emerged from Barcelona’s La Masia academy and then slotted in seamlessly to the Spain squad, even becoming La Roja’s youngest ever player during the Nations League Final Four at the age of 17 and 62 days. Eduardo Camavinga has been just as impressive at Real Madrid, scoring and assisting across his first few appearances following his move from Rennes.

So impressive have the performances of these young stars been that Pedri, Camavinga and Gavi are among LaLiga’s five nominees for this year’s Golden Boy award, given to the best U21 player in European football.

With other young talents earning minutes too, such as Nico, Riqui Puig and Antonio Blanco, it’s clear that Barcelona and Real Madrid have young talent in midfield, players who’ll dominate in the future but who are already impressing in the present.

In attack: Ansu Fati vs Vinícius could be the great individual battle of the next decade

In Ansu Fati and in Vinícius, Barcelona and Real Madrid each have a talented young forward who could go on to become one of the world’s very best. The Spain and Brazil internationals have burst onto the scene in LaLiga Santander and have already demonstrated that they deserve to be starting up front for these two prestigious clubs. With Ansu Fati still just 18 and with Vinícius only 21, both players have room for growth and the latter is showing that this season by already scoring five LaLiga Santander goals, surpassing last season’s tally. Ansu Fati, meanwhile, has just returned from a long-term injury and will be looking to rediscover the form he showed when he shocked the world as a 16-year-old.

As well as those two blue-chip forwards, there are other young attackers at Barcelona and Real Madrid who also have the potential to leave their mark on the game. From Yusuf Demir to Rodrygo – another 2021 Golden Boy nominee –, Barcelona and Real Madrid have as many rising stars in attack as they do in every other position.

Watch ElClasico live this Sunday at 10:15pm on BeINSports

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