A run-through of some the key matches in the upcoming LaLiga Santander season.
We now know the long-awaited fixture list for the LaLiga Santander 2021-22 season. Games will begin on the weekend of 14th-15th August, the standout encounter being the clash pitting together two of LaLiga’s most-historic sides, FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad, at Camp Nou. Both sides will represent LaLiga Santander in Europe this coming season and their twice-yearly meetings are one of Spanish football’s most storied rivalries.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico de Madrid, the reigning champions, kick-off their season with a tough away day at RC Celta, while Real Madrid will kick off Carlo Ancelotti’s second spell in charge with a similarly tricky encounter away at D. Alaves.
The first ElClasico of the season, which will see Barça host Real Madrid at the Camp Nou, will take place on 24th October while the reverse fixture in the Spanish capital will be on 20th March. Barcelona will also travel to the capital just a few weeks before that opening ElClasico, facing Atleti at the Wanda Metropolitano on 3rd October.
Every LaLiga season is filled with exciting derby matches and this year is no exception. The historic Basque derby between Real Sociedad and Athletic Club is scheduled for 31st October at the Reale Arena, while the Madrid derby (Real Madrid vs Atletico de Madrid) will follow on 12th December at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The first Seville derby of the season, widely known as El Gran Derbi, will see Real Betis host Sevilla FC on 7th November. Heading over to the east coast, Levante UD will entertain Valencia CF in the first Valencian derby of the season on 19th December, while FC Barcelona will host city rivals RCD Espanyol in the Barcelona derby on 21st November.
All these teams wear the same ‘celeste’ colors and their fans have already been able to see the Vigo team’s jersey in their streets under the following slogan: “Sorry, but take a look at our ‘celeste’”
RC Celta already has his new skin for the 2021/22 season. It is one of the most iconic shirts of LaLiga Santander for its traditional light blue color (‘celeste’, in Spanish). A color that no one else wears in the Spanish championship… and there are not many more examples among the elite of world football. And although the design of the shirt remains practically unchanged over the years, RC Celta has surprised everyone this summer with its launch campaign, which allows them to conquer several cities around the world.
Cause it has managed to make the RC Celta home kit look in those other cities that also dress their teams in light blue color. The shirt, with the hashtag #EnvidiaCeleste (Light Blue Envy concept, in English), has ‘challenged’ those worn by the teams of Napoli, Lazio, Manchester City, New York City Football Club and the Uruguay National Team with different initiatives aimed at presenting their fans with the kit of the RC Celta under the same slogan -that has been adapted for the fans of each team-: “Sorry, but take a look at our ‘celeste’”.
In capitals such as Rome, Naples and Manchester, as well as among their fans on Social Media, expectations have been raised with the posters and messages that accompany the new light blue kit, asserting that characteristic color that has put RC Celta in an exceptional place on the football planet.
For its part, this ‘celeste’ RC Celta shirt is made with 40% recycled polyester to reaffirm the commitment to the environment. And each shirt is unique thanks to a QR code that not only guarantees its authenticity, but will offer each fan who activates it numerous exclusive benefits and surprises. A distinction that the club wanted to have with their fans in the season in which they will be able to return to the Abanca Balaídos stadium after COVID-19.
For the second season running, the Spanish competition will feature a specific ball for all special matches played in LaLiga Santander.
Several PUMA players, including Luis Suárez, Jan Oblak and Antoine Griezmann star in the launch campaign, that draws its inspiration from Japanese Anime movies.
Barcelona, 12 July 2021.- The sports brand PUMA and LaLiga present their latest design for the ADRENALINA matchball, the second official matchball for the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season, which will be used for special fixtures in the competition’s calendar such as ElClasico, the derbies and other standout matches.
Matchdays 10 and 29 will see the ADRENALINA matchball on display at the Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu stadiums respectively as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF face each other in ElClasico.
Following the launch of the primary ACCELERATE match football in June, with a design that drew references from the energy of FIRE, now comes ADRENALINA with its intense combination of yellow and blue colours that draw their inspiration from the powerful energy of an ELECTRIC storm. The LEMON TONIC and DARK YELLOW tones contrast strikingly with touches of LIGHT BLUE or HARBOR BLUE and DARK PUMA.
The ADRENALINA match ball will feature in over half of the matchdays in the LaLiga Santander calendar
For the second consecutive season in the Spanish competition, all decisive LaLiga Santander matches will feature a specific matchball. In the 21/22 season, the ADRENALINA ball will be used in over half of the 38 rounds to be played.
The design of this football draws reference to the electrifying force of certain games considered to be decisive in the season’s outcome, that increase the heart rate of the fans and make the adrenaline flow through their veins; games that include ElClasico, the Gran Derbi, the Basque derbies plus other Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Andalusian encounters.
The brand has called upon the services of PUMA players Luis Suárez, Jan Oblak and Antoine Griezmann to present this second official match football in a special launch campaign in keeping with the spirit that PUMA and LaLiga have wanted to convey since the outset of their collaboration: This isn’t just football, this is LaLiga. This is not just a football, this is the Heart of LaLiga .
A state-of-the-art football with best-in-class aerodynamics
ADRENALINA is a high-performance ball, approved by FIFA, with an exclusive 8-panel design, incorporating the latest technologies to achieve a state-of-the-art ball with the best aerodynamics. Its sphericity is perfect, it has been high frequency molded to guarantee reduced water absorption and maintain excellent shape retention. The 3D textural 1.2mm PU surface provides greater durability by increasing resistance to abrasion and wear and, with the addition of POE foam, sensitivity has been improved to provide a firmer touch.
The official 2021/22 LaLiga ADRENALINA football will be available from July 12 at PUMA.COM and at selected retailers worldwide.
Whether it’s the design or even the memories created by players wearing them, some kits are simply unforgettable. Here’s a run through five of the best and most iconic LaLiga kits from recent years.
FC BARCELONA, 2015/16
Barcelona have worn kits with variations of vertical blue and red stripes since their foundation in 1899 but broke with tradition in 2015/16 with this eye-catching jersey with horizontal hoops. The shirt was central to some of the club’s most iconic moments in recent years, including a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double as well as UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup victories.
The jersey’s popularity has endured and is still seen in the stands for home games at the Camp Nou. Still a must-have item for countless Barça fans!
ATHLETIC CLUB, 2004/05
Another club synonymous with vertical stripes, Athletic Club bucked tradition in 2004-05 with this remarkable jersey. Commissioned to celebrate the club’s European qualification with a new-look jersey, the kit was designed by Bilbao-born artist Dario Urzay, who was keen to give the jersey a more modern feel just as the Guggenheim Museum had given his hometown in 1997.
His shirt was unique and came to be known as the “ketchup kit” thanks to its ‘splatter effect’ design. Athletic Club hardly used it, but thousands of fans purchased their own version. Arenas de Getxo, another Basque club, were certainly impressed as a few years later they hired Urzay to come up with the pattern for their centenary shirts.
ATLÉTICO DE MADRID, 1995/96
Atletico de Madrid enjoyed the greatest season in club history in 1995/96, winning an unprecedented LaLiga and Copa del Rey double, and as a result the team’s kit from that season enjoys almost iconic status in the hearts of Rojiblancos fans at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Atleti’s strip that season featured thick block stripes of the club’s iconic red and white colours, with blue trim and all-blue shorts, and features in many of the most recognisable photos of 1990s Atleti legends Diego Simeone and Milinko Pantic. Fans are often still seen wearing that season’s shirt… no other kit sums up a glory era for the club quite like the 1995/96 kit.
REAL MADRID, 2001/02
Think back in Real Madrid history and more often than not one moment comes to mind quicker than others… Zinedine Zidane’s spectacular strike in the 2002 Champions League final. That image is ingrained in every Madridista’s memory. And, as a result, so too is the club’s iconic strip from that season.
The club went back to basics to mark their centenary that season, opting for an elegant all-white affair as usual but with no sponsor except for the club’s own website as the football world entered the internet age. The kit also coincided with one of the greatest Real Madrid squads of all time, featuring the likes of Fernando Hierro, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Steven McManaman, Raul, Fernando Morientes and, of course, Zizou.
RAYO VALLECANO, EVERY YEAR
Let’s be honest; this is always a classic. Rayo Vallecano’s kit, which features a red sash across the front, is always iconic. One of the few sides to sport the stripe on a regular basis – River Plate and the Peruvian national team spring to mind – Rayo always stand out wherever they go.
Interestingly, the sash first appeared on the club’s jersey in 1949, 25 years after the Madrid side’s foundation in 1924. Since the it has come to define the club and make it one of the most recognisable in LaLiga history. It features on the walls and gates of the club’s Estadio de Vallecas stadium, the club crest and on most of their away kits too.
The 27-year-old will work with Diego Simeone after completing a transfer from Udinese. He recently won the Copa America, where he completed a great performance for Argentina
Rodrigo de Paul is back in LaLiga Santander, with the former Valencia CF midfielder having completed a move to join Spanish champions Atlético Madrid. De Paul, who came through at Racing Club in his native Argentina, was most recently at Udinese and enjoyed a stellar 2020/21 campaign, completing the most dribbles in Serie A with 122, winning the most duels with 289, earning the most fouls with 126 and providing the second-most assists with 10.
The 27-year-old followed up his excellent domestic season by helping Argentina win the Copa América this summer, the country’s first major international title in 28 years. After Lionel Messi, De Paul was arguably Argentina’s next most important player throughout the tournament and he even set up Ángel di María’s winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Brazil.
Just two days after that success, on Monday, De Paul’s transfer and five-year deal with Los Rojiblancos was confirmed. The club officially announced his arrival at 19:03 local time, a nod to the club’s founding year of 1903. That’s because Atlético Madrid are a club where tradition is important, as they respect their past and all the legends who have gone before.
Many of these legends are also from Argentina, starting with the coach himself. Diego Simeone played 172 times for the club over two stints, before going on to coach the team since 2011. He even just signed a contract extension until 2024, meaning he is going nowhere in the near future.
Other Argentines to have enjoyed success wearing red and white in the Spanish capital include Jorge Griffa, Sergio Agüero and Rubén Ayala, while De Paul’s current Argentina teammate Ángel Correa was a key part of Atleti’s LaLiga Santander triumph in 2020/21.
Where does De Paul fit in at Atlético Madrid?
De Paul arrives at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano in excellent form, so will expect to become an immediate starter at the club. As he said following his announcement: “I’m very happy, I’m going to join LaLiga’s champion and I’m conscious of the responsibility it carries. It is a big step in my football career. Moreover, because of the timing, just after winning the Copa América, this fills me with strength to meet all expectations. I’m football passionate and, because of my experience in Spanish football, I know very well Atlético Madrid.”
De Paul’s first experience in Spain was with Valencia CF, who he played for 44 times between 2014 and 2016. The midfielder, therefore, knows Spanish football well and has proven in Italy that he has more than enough drive and talent to succeed at the highest level.
Atleti won LaLiga Santander in 2020/21 by largely playing a 3-5-2 system, so De Paul should slot in nicely into one of the three central midfield spots, alongside club captain Koke. Marcos Llorente enjoyed a lot of success last campaign by bursting forward from the middle and that will be a template for De Paul to follow.
His acquisition really could prove to be one of the signings of the summer, as Atlético Madrid look to win back-to-back league titles during the 2021/22 campaign.
Every group has a LaLiga presence, with several club teammates set to go up against each other in some tasty encounters this summer.
16 of the 24 nations taking part in this summer’s European Championships feature at least one LaLiga-based player in their squad.
Euro 2020 is finally here, with the international tournament to be played across 11 different countries this summer. After being postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 24 nations are now ready to battle for the trophy and 16 of these national sides will do so with at least one LaLiga-based player in their squads.
44 LaLiga Santander or LaLiga SmartBank players have been called up for their national teams. 39 played their football in Spain’s top division last campaign, three played in the Spanish second tier and two (David Alaba and Eric García) have just arrived in LaLiga Santander.
FC Barcelona lead the way with eight in total: Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Pedri are in the Spain squad, pending any further late developments or positive COVID tests within the camp. Meanwhile, Martin Braithwaite is going with Denmark, Frenkie de Jong with the Netherlands and Clément Lenglet, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé with France. Champions Atlético de Madrid have seven players going, while city rivals Real Madrid have six.
It also says a lot about the good standing of LaLiga SmartBank that Rayo Vallecano’s Stole Dimitrievski and Martin Valjent and Aleksandar Trajkovski – both of RCD Mallorca – are going to the European Championships, with their national team coaches valuing their exploits in one of European football’s most competitiveness divisions.
LaLiga players in every group
The 44 LaLiga players are spread across 16 different nations. As is to be expected, it’s the Spanish national team that has the most, with coach Luis Enrique naming 11 Spain-based players in his side. The other nations with LaLiga players in their squads are: France (seven), Portugal (four), Croatia (three), North Macedonia (three), Belgium (three), Denmark (two), Netherlands (two), Slovakia (two), Austria (one), Turkey (one), Russia (one), Czech Republic (one), England (one), Sweden (one) and Germany (one).
This means that there is LaLiga representation in every single group. In Group A, there’s just one player, but Enes Ünal’s presence in the Turkey squad means there will be a LaLiga player in the opening match as the Crescent Stars face Italy. Then there are six LaLiga players in Group B, six in Group C, five in Group D, 14 in Group E and 12 in Group F.
The draw has thrown up some very tasty head-to-heads between LaLiga stars and even teammates. In Group F, Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos will meet Raphaël Varane and Karim Benzema, while LaLiga champions Thomas Lemar and João Félix will also come up against each other in that same group. Another all-Atleti affair comes in Group D, as the Rojiblancos’ two right-backs Kieran Trippier and Šime Vrsaljko clash in England vs Croatia in the opening weekend. In Group B, meanwhile, Valencia CF’s Denis Cheryshev and Daniel Wass may even be up against each other on the same flank when Russia meet Denmark.
LaLiga heavily represented off the pitch too
It’s not just through players that LaLiga has a presence at this summer’s European Championship, though. LaLiga installations will be used in the build-up to the tournament and during the competition too, such as Sevilla FC’s training complex. Los Rojiblancos will open their doors to Poland, Sweden and Slovakia when they are in the city to play at La Cartuja.
And on the production side of things, lead TV match director for Mediapro and LaLiga Óscar Lago is part of UEFA’s team of broadcast directors for the tournament. He becomes the first Spaniard to hold such a role at a European Championship or World Cup since UEFA and FIFA brought the direction of broadcasts in house in 2008 and will go with his own team of technicians – a testament to the excellent work being done in LaLiga broadcasts over the past few years.
From the opening match and maybe to the final, there will be a significant LaLiga presence at this year’s European Championship. It should be a fun summer of action as 24 national teams battle it out.
Salto de página
The LaLiga players who’ll be present at Euro 2020
Enes Ünal (Getafe CF)
Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
Yannick Carrasco (Atlético Madrid)
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
Daniel Wass (Valencia CF)
Martin Braithwaite (FC Barcelona)
Denis Cheryshev (Valencia CF)
David Alaba (Real Madrid)
Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona)
Luuk de Jong (Sevilla FC)
Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano)
Enis Bardhi (Levante UD)
Aleksandar Trajkovski (RCD Mallorca)
Šime Vrsaljko (Atlético Madrid) Luka Modrić (Real Madrid) Ante Budimir (CA Osasuna)
What has been going on in LaLiga this past week? Here’s all you need to know from around Spanish football this week, from Ancelotti’s shock return at Real Madrid to Barcelona’s flurry of new signings.
Girona and Rayo Vallecano will fight it out for the final LaLiga Santander spot
The final of the LaLiga SmartBank promotion playoffs is set, with Girona and Rayo Vallecano set to do battle over two legs for the final spot in the top flight next season. Both sides were relegated from LaLiga Santander in 2018/19 and now have the opportunity to come back up: the first leg in Vallecas will take place on June 13th and the second leg in Girona will be on June 20th.
Koeman is staying on at Barcelona
Barcelona have confirmed that their coach for 2021/22 will be Ronald Koeman, with club president Joan Laporta announcing this past week that the Dutchman is staying on for another season. In his first year in the Camp Nou dugout, Koeman led the team to the Copa del Rey title.
Ancelotti returns to Real Madrid
Over in the Spanish capital, Real Madrid have hired their new coach: Carlo Ancelotti has returned to the club that he coached between 2013 and 2015. The Italian replaces Zinedine Zidane and has signed a three-year deal at the Bernabéu. Having won the league in Italy, England, France and Germany, he’ll now target his first LaLiga Santander title.
Barcelona bring in three new signings
Barcelona have completed three new signings this week. First up was Sergio Agüero on Monday, followed by the return of centre-back Eric Garcia on Tuesday. The following day, Barça revealed they’d acquired the full rights for Real Betis right-back Emerson Royal, activating a pre-existing purchase option. Definitely an exciting week for blaugrana fans.
Jan Oblak, LaLiga Santander Player of the Month for May
The final month of LaLiga Santander was packed full of drama and action, with Atlético de Madrid ultimately winning the title. Their goalkeeper Jan Oblak was deservedly named as the Player of the Month for May, collecting more votes than Borja Iglesias, Carlos Soler, Casemiro, Gerard Moreno, Joselu and Santi Mina.
Miranda’s Real Betis story continues
After spending last season on loan at Real Betis from Barcelona, left-back Juan Miranda is staying on at the Benito Villamarín. He has joined Real Betis on a permanent transfer, after an agreement was reached between the two clubs, thus returning to his hometown club.
Miñambres stays on at RC Celta
RC Celta and sporting director Felipe Miñambres have reached an agreement which will see him stay on at the Galician club for another season. Miñambres has put together a strong squad at Balaídos, with Celta recovering from an uneven start to finish a very creditable eighth last season. European qualification is definitely the target for this Celta side next season.
LaLiga and PUMA launch the 2021/22 ball
Thoughts now turn to the 2021/22 season, with LaLiga and PUMA presenting the ball that will be used in the upcoming campaign. The design of the new ACCELERATE football pays tribute to the energy present in fire. Many of the PUMA athletes present in LaLiga Santander took part in a campaign for the new ball’s launch, including 2020/21 champions Jan Oblak and Luis Suárez.
This season’s LaLiga Santander campaign threw up drama until the final second. Here’s a look at the top statistical performers who made this season so memorable.
FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi’s 30 goals were enough to see him top the LaLiga goalscoring standings for the eighth time in his career. He was followed by Villarreal CF’s Gerard Moreno – who picked up his second Zarra award for the top-scoring Spanish player in the division – and Karim Benzema of Real Madrid, both with 23.
Barcelona lived up to their passing tradition once again this season, with the Frenkie de Jong (2,785) and Sergio Busquets (2,682) leading the way across LaLiga Santander. de Jong has quickly established himself as the heartbeat of the blaugrana midfield since joining from Ajax in 2019, with many considering him to be the heir of former passing maestros Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta at the Camp Nou. Third place went to Villarreal’s Dani Parejo (2,668), who impressed in his first season at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
RC Celta’s Iago Aspas put together another very strong season, leading his side to an impressive eighth place finish after a slow start. Aspas was one of just two players to register double digits for goals and assists in LaLiga Santander along with Marcos Llorente, providing 13 assists for his teammates. Atletico de Madrid’s Marcos Llorente followed in second with 11, with Toni Kroos of Germany in third with 10.
Real Madrid’s title charge was driven from the midfield, with Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos proving influential in both defence and attack in the final stretch. Casemiro has for many years been among the best defensive midfielders in LaLiga Santander, and this season was no different. The Brazilian registered the most interceptions in the league (70), followed by SD Eibar’s Anaitz Arbilla (69) and Real Betis’ Guido Rodriguez (68).
Attacking marvel Lionel Messi topped the dribbling rankings once again, registering 159 across the season. His tally was far ahead of the rest of the pack; SD Huesca full-back Javi Galan came in second with 121, and Real Betis midfielder Nabil Fekir in third with 85.
The 2020/21 season saw some phenomenal performances between the sticks, nowhere more so than in the Spanish capital where the form of Jan Oblak was crucial in Atletico de Madrid’s title win. The Slovenian keeper made 103 saves across the campaign, ahead of Elche CF’s Edgar Badia (95) – whose saves helped his side stay up on the final day of the season –, Valencia CF’s Jaume Domenech (90) and Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois (90).
Most minutes played:
This category is often dominated by goalkeepers and this season was no exception. Three keepers were ever present through the campaign, playing every minute of every game (3,420 minutes): Alex Remiro (Real Sociedad), Jan Oblak (Atletico de Madrid) and Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid).
CA Osasuna’s hometown centre-back David Garcia led the league in clearances this season (170), anchoring a top ten defence in terms of goals conceded. D. Alaves’ French centre-back Florian Lejeune ranked in second with 145, followed by Villarreal’s experienced defensive leader Raul Albiol (139).
Most free-kick goals:
Another ranking topped by Lionel Messi. The Argentine continued to be deadly from set-pieces, netting three times to take his total in LaLiga to an incredible 39. He also led the way in free-kicks on target, with 12 – three times more than his closest challenger. D. Alaves’ Joselu ranked in second with two, with a host of other stars, including Dani Parejo (Villarreal), Luis Suarez (Atletico de Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Nabil Fekir (Real Betis) and Iago Aspas (RC Celta) with one.
Most duels won:
The aforementioned Joselu had a great season in the blue and white of Alaves and was a key factor up front in their late run to survival under coach Javi Calleja. His 378 duels won led the league, ahead of Eibar’s Kike Garcia (337) and Huesca’s Javi Galan (321).
Real Madrid have hired the Italian to replace Zinedine Zidane, with the 61-year-old returning to the club he previous coached with success between 2013 and 2015.
Carlo Ancelotti is back in charge at Real Madrid. The Italian has been brought back to the club he previously coached between 2013 and 2015, when he won Real Madrid’s 10th European Cup – the long-awaited Décima. He replaces his former assistant Zinedine Zidane and will reunite with several of his former players. He’s one of the greatest managers of the modern era, but here are some things you might not know about Carlo.
He was one of the finest players of his generation
Ancelotti hung up his boots back in 1992, so not all football fans remember watching him play. But those who did see him play will remember Ancelotti as one of the best midfielders of his generation. The Italian formed part of Arrigo Sacchi’s legendary AC Milan side, winning back-to-back European Cups with the Rossoneri in 1989 and 1990.
He grew up on a farm
Born in Reggiolo, a town equidistant between Parma and Bologna, Ancelotti spent his childhood on a farm and helped his family out with the work on the fields. They produced parmesan cheese and Ancelotti helped to milk the cows, a responsibility he has since said taught him the value of being patient.
He once appeared on Star Trek!
Carlo has made it on to the big screen, enjoying a small cameo in the 2016 movie ‘Star Trek Beyond.’ When in Vancouver to visit the set, he spoke to director Justin Lin and was given the cameo role. “I play the part of a scientist who has to examine an alien,” he said afterwards. “It was good. I pretended it was Cristiano Ronaldo in front of me!”
He’s still in with a chance of making history
Ancelotti’s coaching career has taken him all across Europe, and he’s won the league title in Italy, England, France and Germany. Until now, though, LaLiga Santander has eluded him. It was Atlético de Madrid and Barcelona who lifted the title during his first stint at Real Madrid. This season, he’ll look to make further history by becoming the first coach to win a championship in all five of Europe’s biggest domestic leagues.
He has a strong relationship with much of the Real Madrid squad, new and old
This is Ancelotti’s second stint in charge at Real Madrid and has already worked closely with the likes of Varane, Kroos, Casemiro, Isco, Modric and Martin Ødegaard, even giving the young Norwegian his debut as a 16-year-old. And don’t forget, he’s also close to new superstar David Alaba, having worked with the Austrian international while at Bayern Munich.
Among LaLiga’s most impressive rising stars is Brazilian right-back Emerson, who has just confirmed his long-awaited move to FC Barcelona from Real Betis.
Emerson may have only turned 22 last January, but with four goals and ten assists across the last two seasons in green and white, he has an excellent claim to be perhaps the most productive attack-minded defender in LaLiga Santander.
Born in Sao Paulo in January 1999, Emerson gained his first football education at local side Ponte Preta, before moving to giants Atletico Mineiro while still a teenager. Regular appearances in Brazil’s Serie A brought interest from many European clubs, and he made the leap to join Real Betis in January 2019.
Emerson was gradually introduced into the Real Betis first team set up by then coach Quique Setien, with one of his first three LaLiga starts coming in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the city derby at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan. Having settled well in the Andalusian capital, and with a good pre-season behind him, Emerson was the automatic first choice right-back in time for the 2019/20 season.
He heads to Barcelona on the back of a stellar season with Real Betis. He was a key part of Manuel Pellegrini’s team which put together a remarkable 2021 – in which they lost just twice, to title challengers Barcelona and Sevilla – to finish sixth in style and bag a Europa League spot.
Emerson’s potential has also been quickly spotted by Brazil’s national teams. He featured regularly throughout 2019’s South American Under-20 championships and could well have represented his country at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan but for postponement due to COVID-19. Already a senior international, he looks set to form a long-term partnership on either side of the Brazil back four with Atletico Madrid left-back Renan Lodi, who has also broken into the set-up at the same time.
The athletic and intelligent Emerson’s attack-minded contributions from right-back have brought to mind another Brazilian who first made his LaLiga mark in the Andalusian capital, and he now follows in Dani Alves’ footsteps by joining Barcelona this coming season. Given how he has settled in Spain so far, it would be no surprise to see the rising star becoming the starting right-back at the Camp Nou over the next decade.
Emerson’s first two seasons in LaLiga have been impressive, but don’t doubt that there is plenty still to come from one of LaLiga’s most talented and determined rising stars.