The new Spanish football season kicks off on August 13th, with a host of thrilling and fascinating storylines from top to bottom of the table.
The wait for the new season of LaLiga Santander is almost over, with just a couple more weeks to go before the opening fixtures. The very first 2021/22 fixture in Spain’s top tier takes place on the night of Friday August 13th: Valencia vs Getafe, an encounter which has become a grudge match of sorts over the past few seasons, at 9pm CEST.
The opening night has produced some unforgettable moments in recent years. Who could forget Aritz Aduriz’s bicycle kick winner in stoppage time against FC Barcelona back in 2019? The stands were packed that night at San Mames, and there’s excitement across Spain and the world with fans set to return to Spanish stadiums for the new campaign.
A tantalising first fixture
Valencia vs Getafe is an explosive fixture to start the new season, with these two clubs having taken part in several fiery encounters in recent years. Those games were with José Bordalás as the Getafe coach, but he made the move to the coast to coach Los Che this summer and, given a quirk of the fixture list, will take on his former club in his first match with his new team. Getafe, meanwhile, have brought former boss Míchel back to their dugout, and have been very busy in the transfer market as the Azulones put together an exciting new squad.
Later on in the opening weekend, Real Madrid visit D. Alavés for an interesting Saturday night encounter. Champions Atlético de Madrid begin their title defence away at RC Celta on Sunday evening, while Barcelona get their campaign underway at home to Real Sociedad.
A summer of changes in the transfer market
As is the case every summer, LaLiga Santander clubs have turned to the transfer market to improve their squads. The coronavirus crisis has shaken up the market and Spanish clubs have acted responsibly in not forking out for players they can’t afford. Teams have still been able to get better through smart decisions, bargain buys, free transfers and creative loans, though.
One of the smart solutions was Sevilla’s swap with Tottenham, with the Andalusian club losing Bryan Gil but gaining Erik Lamela and a hefty fee in the bargain as they aim to take another step forward in 2021/22. Sevilla earned a record 77 points last year and will hope to form part of another four-team title race this term.
Defending champions Atlético de Madrid will, of course, aspire to defend their title and they have tweaked their squad as they aim to do so. Rodrigo de Paul was one of the best players at this summer’s Copa América with Argentina and will now bring his talents to LaLiga Santander. The new Atleti player is the most expensive signing by a Spanish club so far this summer and everyone at the Wanda Metropolitano is excited about what he can do.
As Barcelona and Real Madrid look to challenge Atleti, they have made some high-profile free agent signings. Memphis Depay has landed in Barcelona, scoring in his first friendly outing in a Barça shirt, as has the mercurial Sergio Agüero. The immensely talented David Alaba has also arrived at Real Madrid after leaving Bayern Munich and inherited the iconic number four shirt vacated by outgoing Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos.
There have also been some big transfers in the striking department in LaLiga Santander, with Villarreal CF bringing in Boulaye Dia from Stade Reims, with Getafe signing Mexican prospect José Macías and with CA Osasuna making Croatian international and fan favourite Ante Budimir’s loan at the club permanent in addition to signing Kike García from Eibar.
A full pre-season
The quality of football on show in LaLiga Santander in 2020/21 was tremendous, especially given that clubs hadn’t been able to enjoy the kind of pre-seasons they’re used to. The coronavirus lockdown bunched two seasons into each other, but there will have been a full 82 days between the final day of the last LaLiga Santander season and the first day of this new campaign.
Coaches have had a lengthy summer to work with their players and to fine tune little details. Several LaLiga Santander stars were away representing their countries this summer, but even most of those players have returned will multiple weeks to go before their first fixture of the new campaign.
Clubs have also organised pre-season friendlies this summer, with LaLiga Santander sides facing testing opposition such as Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, Juventus and PSG. That means teams should be ready to hit the ground running from Matchday 1.
An all-new PUMA ball
With LaLiga Santander’s start just around the corner, the new footballs for the season have been presented. The primary white ball is called ACCELERATE, while the yellow and blue ADRENALINA match ball will be used in the most high-profile matches of the season.