La liga

LaLiga Santander Matchday 27 preview: Derby fever grips Valencia and Seville

Not only is Matchday 27 important because the business end of the season has arrived, but this round is also huge because there are two historic derbies taking place on Friday and Sunday night. In Valencia, Levante UD and Valencia CF will continue their rivalry and, down south in Seville, the latest battle between Sevilla FC and Real Betis will take place with qualification for Europe on the line.

The derby atmosphere begins from the very start of this round, as the Friday night fixture at 21:00 CET is the clash between Los Granotas and Los Che at the Ciutat de València. Their first meeting of the 2020/21 season was all the way back in the first matchday and that game was a thriller, as Valencia twice came from behind to win 4-2.

Since returning to Spain’s top flight in 2017, Levante haven’t actually enjoyed a derby win over their neighbours. They’ve met on seven occasions since then and there have been three draws and four wins for Los Che. This time around, their coach Paco López will be determined to earn the three points, especially after his side blew a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 when they hosted Valencia last campaign.

This match matters for the LaLiga Santander standings too. Although neither of these teams is currently within reach of the European qualification spots, Levante are aiming to finish the season higher up in the table than their rivals, something they have never achieved before. However, Levante’s current advantage over Javi Gracia’s side is only two points, making this a very important game in this local tussle.

On Saturday, there is a match that is certainly not a derby. D. Alavés and Cádiz CF are based more than 750km apart, but this is still a huge match as they’re both in the relegation battle and need every point they can muster. Elche CF similarly need points on the board as they look to stay outside the bottom three, but they have a very tricky task this weekend as they must visit Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid. On Saturday evening, CA Osasuna vs Real Valladolid is another match with relegation battle implications, even if both these teams are currently in positions of safety.

On Saturday night, there is another derby as Atlético de Madrid face opposition from within the capital for the second weekend in a row. After drawing 1-1 with Real Madrid last weekend, the league leaders now face the short trip to Getafe CF. This is a fixture that has brought Atleti a lot of joy in recent years as Diego Simeone has faced the Azulones 18 times as coach, enjoying 16 wins and two draws while seeing his team score 34 total goals while, incredibly, conceding zero. It’s an incredible stat and it will be put to the test again this weekend.

Sunday brings several fixtures that could be key in the race for European qualification. First, two members of the chasing pack, RC Celta and Athletic Club, face off with both sides currently level on 33 points each. Then, 2020/21 Europa League participants Granada CF and Real Sociedad meet on Sunday afternoon with both sides keen to secure a continental ticket for next season as well. Villarreal CF will then visit SD Eibar determined to halt their recent run of poor form after going eight LaLiga Santander matches without a win.

Then, at 9pm CET on Sunday night, there is a huge fixture as Sevilla FC and Real Betis square off at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. With the former currently in fourth on 48 points and the latter in sixth on 42 points, this another game with major European qualification implications.

More than that, though, it is one of world football’s most electric derby matches. Seville is a city that breathes football and these two teams have been rivals for over 100 years, splitting the city into one red half and one green half on derby day. The fact that the captains Jesús Navas and Joaquín represent their clubs so well is yet another reason why this fixture has been so special in recent seasons.

There will also be so many talented players in action, with Sevilla FC boasting the energetic winger Lucas Ocampos, the creative playmaker Papu Gómez, the in-form Youssef En-Nesyri and one of the best defensive partnerships in football with Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé. Real Betis, meanwhile, have World Cup winner Nabil Fekir, the silky Sergio Canales, dynamic right-back Emerson and an in-form striker of their own with Borja Iglesias.

Real Betis are in excellent form in general and have a better LaLiga Santander record than Sevilla FC this calendar year – they’re undoubtedly one of the form teams of 2021 – so this derby promises to be fascinating.

The matchday then concludes on Monday when FC Barcelona return to action, this time to host SD Huesca at the Camp Nou. This fixture finished 8-2 to Barça when Huesca were last in Spain’s top division. Even if 10 goals might not be scored this time around, it should still be a high-scoring game and the perfect way to conclude this matchday.

Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on [LOCAL BROADCASTER].

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