CARLES PUYOL: “I’D TELL MYSELF TO BE A LITTLE LESS ROUGH!”

Looking back over a long and trophy-laden career that included lifting six LaLiga Santander titles, former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol says the key to his many achievements was to always give 100%.

Now a LaLiga ambassador, devoted father and social campaigner, Puyol was a fearsome defender of the cause of both Barcelona and the Spanish national team for over 15 years.

Asked for some advice to the youngster who made his Barça debut back in October 1999, Puyol laughs that he might maybe have taken things a bit easier, before recalling that it was his commitment and professionalism that ensure such a successful career.

“I would advise myself to be a bit more careful, not so rough,” the now 40-year-old says with a smile. “But that was the way I was, how I understood the sport, to always go at 100%, and not worry about the risks when I was carrying an injury. But I’m happy with how it went, and if I had not been that way for sure it would have gone differently.”

Born in 1978 in the small Catalan town of Puebla de Segur, Puyol entered Barça’s famous La Masia academy aged 17. He went on to win 23 trophies with his only club, including six LaLiga Santander titles and three Champions Leagues, as well as the Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 trophies in 100 appearances for Spain. But he says the main motivation for playing was always a pure love of the game.

“For me to be able to play football was a gift,” Puyol says. “I’ve been very lucky as I did it for almost 20 years. Every morning I woke up with a smile, happy to go training. I was one of those players who loved to train and tried to enjoy every day, every session, every game.”

Puyol says that as a young player he learned the importance of training well and eating well from forward-thinking Blaugrana teammate Luis Enrique, later a LaLiga Santander winner as Barça coach and currently Spain national manager.

“I knew that the body and physical conditioning was very important,” he says. “These days players look after themselves a lot more. But I always had it very clear right from the start. My example was Luis Enrique, who always looked after himself a lot. I learned a lot of things from him.”

Already four years into retirement, Puyol says he still looks after himself well, while feeding his competitive streak with games of the popular Spanish racket sport Padel.

“These days I’m a bit more relaxed, although I still like to eat well,” he says. “Sometimes if I have a game of ‘padel’ we’ll have a beer after the third set.”

Puyol has two young daughters with his partner Vanesa Lorenzo, a model, author and yoga expert, and says that since retirement in 2014 he’s been able to really appreciate family life.

“It’s also true that for my whole career, except the last few months, I wasn’t a father,” he says. “Now that I have children, not playing football means I get a chance to enjoy my daughters.”

He still keeps busy professionally, traveling the world to communicate the values he learned during his time as a player.

“I am focused a lot now on my personal brand,” Puyol says. “I travel all over the world as an official LaLiga ambassador and I also work with UEFA, FIFA, Laureus, give speeches at conferences and work in partnership with some brands.”

The same commitment which Puyol put into almost 600 games for Barça over 15 seasons with the first team is now channelled into helping drive positive social change.

“The power which football has is enormous,” Puyol says. “Football moves the masses. Those of us involved in football must be aware of the power we have to help. We also have a responsibility to return to society all that society has given to us.”

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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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This Week in LaLiga…

What has been going on in LaLiga this past week? Here are 10 of the top stories, from Asensio’s hat-trick to Ansu Fati’s long-awaited return.

Here’s all you need to know from a busy week in LaLiga which included back-to-back midweek and weekend matchdays.

Ansu Fati’s triumphant return

Barcelona’s 18-year-old superstar Ansu Fati hadn’t played since last November due to a knee injury, but the young forward was able to return to action on Sunday against Levante. The Barça fans at the Camp Nou were thrilled to see him back on the pitch, 323 days after his last appearance – and he even scored the third goal of his side’s 3-0 victory to earn a standing ovation.

La Real overcome the injuries

Despite missing 10 players due to injuries, Real Sociedad stayed strong and were up to the challenge, beating Elche 1-0 on Sunday. The Basque side have now taken 16 points from their first seven matches of the LaLiga Santander season, propelling them up to second place, behind only Real Madrid.

Three in three for Falcao

Radamel Falcao has had the perfect start to his Rayo Vallecano career. After scoring on his debut against Getafe, the Colombian centre-forward then netted a stoppage time winner in a 2-1 midweek victory at Athletic Club, before producing the go-ahead goal as Rayo overcame Cádiz 3-1 on Sunday. The newly promoted side are now up to fifth in the table – their best ever start to a top flight season.

Benzema hits 200

Real Madrid enjoyed a big midweek victory, defeating RCD Mallorca 6-1 – but that wasn’t the only cause to celebrate. Karim Benzema hit a milestone during the win: his 200th LaLiga Santander goal. The Frenchman is just the 10th player to ever hit that number.

Asensio’s hometown hat-trick

Real Madrid’s midweek victory over RCD Mallorca was also special for Marco Asensio. He celebrated his return to the starting line-up against his boyhood club with the first hat-trick of his Real Madrid career – which was also the first three-goal haul for any player this LaLiga Santander season.

Alavés’ first win comes against the champions

After failing to pick up a point across their first five matches of the season, Alavés finally tasted victory this weekend, against current champions Atlético de Madrid no less. A 1-0 win over the Rojiblancos meant Alavés were finally able to put some points on the board and to do so in impressive fashion.

Iñaki Williams matches Larrañaga’s record

This weekend Iñaki Williams matched the record the most consecutive matches played in LaLiga Santander history. It’s now an incredible 202 in a row for the Basque forward, who drew level with Juan Antonio Larrañaga’s record. Williams hasn’t missed a match since April 2016, an absolutely remarkable run, and will this coming weekend break the historic record.

Some good news for Getafe

With Getafe yet to pick up a point, it hasn’t been a good start to the season for the Azulones. However, there was some good news this week as Jakub Jankto’s injury isn’t as bad as it first seemed. The Czech winger had to be stretchered off during their clash against Atlético de Madrid in midweek and it appeared he may have suffered a leg break. Thankfully, that isn’t the case and Jankto’s injury is a sprained ankle, meaning he can return in just a few weeks.

Support for La Palma from across LaLiga

The Cumbre Vieja volcano eruption in La Palma has wreaked havoc on the Canarian island and has been a huge news story in Spain and across much of Europe over the past week. LaLiga, as well as its clubs and players, have expressed support for all those affected, Tenerife’s players have taken to the pitch with a message of ‘We are La Palma’ on their shirts, while other teams joined together behind a banner of ‘Strength and support for La Palma’ before kick-off in their fixtures.

ElClasico: it’s set

The date and time of the first ElClasico clash of the season has been set. FC Barcelona will host Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday October 24th, with the biggest club match in the world kicking off at 4.15pm CEST.

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LaLiga presents new ElClasico brand identity

The world’s most iconic club match will now have its own logo and visual identity

Rivalry, strength, passion, technology, innovation, dynamism, entertainment and globality are among this new image’s main attributes

Madrid, 13 September 2021.- LaLiga has created a logo and brand identity for ElClasico, the match that pits FC Barcelona and Real Madrid against each other each season, with the aim of giving one of the most iconic and popular sporting showdowns on the planet a unique and highly recognisable visual identity.

The branding project’s aim is to reflect the DNA of what this legendary encounter symbolises: rivalry, strength, passion, technology, innovation, dynamism, entertainment and globality.

Always at the cutting edge of innovation and entertainment, this new image will be yet another asset in LaLiga’s bid to enhance the brand value of its competition and its clubs, which can be featured at all international events and activations held around this match as part of LaLiga’s internationalisation strategy.

This initiative shows LaLiga to be looking to the future once again, working more closely with clubs to promote the competition and its most iconic matches, including not only ElClasico but also El Gran Derbi, El Derbi de Madrid, El Derbi Vasco, among others.

Watched in every corner of the planet, ElClasico is LaLiga’s blockbuster par excellence that puts life on hold; it is the most watched club match globally. An encounter that everybody watches, that brings everybody together, whether they like football or not, and a cultural touch point that transcends borders.

LaLiga is preparing a major launch of this new visual identity to coincide with the next ElClasico, set to be played in October. It will be implemented across all media outlets and actions that LaLiga rolls out, both nationally and internationally, through promotions, digital and media campaigns, international media activations, press conferences, and international events.

Just last week, LaLiga won the International Creativity Award at this year’s Sports Industry Awards for its unique ElClasico campaign, highlighting its diverse and highly adaptable events in all four corners of the world during the pandemic. The award was also a reflection of LaLiga’s wider work in promoting ElClasico in recent years.

The design of ElClasico’s identity

This is a groundbreaking, young, exciting, football-loving, and visual image that will connect with a global audience and especially among a young demographic. Its style is reminiscent of the digital environments popular among younger audiences and their passion for eSports, TV shows and urban culture. A visual identity that conveys not only the today, but also the tomorrow of a great sporting and entertainment show that brings the world to a standstill for 90 minutes.

ElClasico’s new logo draws its inspiration from the shared emotion that exists between footballers and fans the world over. It is an inclusive brand that does not set a distance between the stars and their supporters, but rather brings them closer together and helps fans feel that they are very much an integral part of the game.

Custom typography has been used to create this new identity, with an energetic style, sharp angles and verticality to express movement, dynamism, and its digital essence.

The symbol that separates Real Madrid and FC Barcelona will replace the usual “vs.” and will be the icon that best represents ElClasico. It represents rivalry, strength, and confrontation, evoking the competitive spirit of both teams.

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