LaLiga preview: 2021 starts with the fireworks of El Gran Derbi

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El Grand Derbi between Sevilla and Real Betis in February 2020. (PHOTO: LaLiga Santander)
El Grand Derbi between Sevilla and Real Betis in February 2020. (PHOTO: LaLiga Santander)

As 2020 becomes 2021, the LaLiga Santander action doesn’t stop and the new calendar year will begin with fireworks as Real Betis face Sevilla in El Gran Derbi.

This fixture, the derby of Seville, was the one that got football back up and running after the coronavirus lockdown and now it’ll get 2021 underway. Sevilla have won the past three derbies and Real Betis will be determined to halt that run when these two sides meet on Saturday afternoon (2 January) at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

Before that Seville derby, though, there’s another regional rivalry as Villarreal welcome Valencian neighbours Levante for the very first LaLiga Santander fixture of 2021. This fixture has finished 2-1 the last four times it was played, including their local friendly meetings, with two wins each for either side. As these teams go head to head again, it’ll be the perfect warm-up for the Seville derby later in the day.

On Saturday evening, Getafe face off against Real Valladolid and this will see the home side’s strikers Enes Unal and Jaime Mata go up against their former club, looking to score the goals that can get their current team’s new year off to a good start.

Real Madrid then have their first fixture of 2021 when they welcome Celta Vigo to Valdebebas on Saturday night. Only in two of the past six years have Real Madrid won their first match of the calendar year, but they did so last year in 2020 and will hope to do so again in 2021 against Eduardo Coudet’s new-look Celta Vigo side.

On Sunday, there are five more fixtures and the day begins with Athletic Bilbao vs Elche. These two teams played out a thriller in last season’s Copa del Rey, back when Elche were still in LaLiga SmartBank. It went all the way to penalties, where the Basque side prevailed to kickstart their run to the cup final. If this weekend’s game provides similar levels of entertainment then it’ll be well worth tuning in for.

LaLiga Santander then stays in the Basque Country for the next three of Sunday’s fixtures. The next game is Deportivo Alaves vs Atletico Madrid, a fixture that Diego Simeone’s side have struggled in in the past but a fixture that they’ll be looking to win in order to keep up their title charge.

Next up is Eibar vs Granada, a game that Eibar fans love as they’ve won their past six meetings against the Andalusian outfit. Then, it is Real Sociedad vs Osasuna on Sunday evening for a regional rivalry that sees current Osasuna coach Jagoba Arrasate return to the Reale Arena to face his former team.

After that run of action in the Basque Country, the final Sunday game is between Huesca and Barcelona at the Estadio El Alcoraz in Aragon. This will be just the second time that Barça play a LaLiga Santander match there, but they didn’t win on their last visit. During SD Huesca’s only previous season in Spain’s top flight, Barca thrashed them 8-2 at the Camp Nou but were then held to a 0-0 draw in Aragon. SD Huesca currently have the most draws in LaLiga Santander this season and coach Míchel would surely welcome another one against the Catalan giants.

There’s still one more Matchday 17 fixture to go and this one will take place at Mestalla on Monday night as Cadiz visit Valencia for the first time since a 2011 Copa del Rey game. Los Amarillos are back in the top division and have had a better start to the 2020/21 campaign than Valencia. Having already overcome Spanish football giants such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao this season, Cadiz will be looking for their next scalp and a win over Valencia would certainly provide it.

It’ll be an intriguing matchup to conclude 2021’s first LaLiga Santander matchday.

INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga Santander
INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga Santander

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