LaLiga Santander’s 2020/21 campaign kicks off this weekend with hopes high and with each of the 20 clubs having their own goals to aim for and challenges to overcome.
A staggered start to the season means that 14 teams play over the weekend, while the other six clubs including reigning champions Real Madrid will all have returned to action by week three.
The first game of the new LaLiga Santander campaign takes place in the Basque Country on Saturday afternoon, with SD Eibar hosting RC Celta at 4pm CET. Eibar will be looking to continue to punch above their weight, with their new signings including Polish midfielder Damian Kadzior, as they host a Celta side who just escaped relegation last term but return with interesting additions including Peru international Renato Tapia.
The attention then turns to Granada, where last season’s surprise package host Athletic Club. The Andalusians are aiming to build on last season’s superb seventh placed finish with new signings including Jorge Molina and Alberto Soro. Athletic’s ‘Basque only’ policy limits their moves in the market, but there are high hopes that exciting home-grown youngsters Unai Vencedor and Jon Morcillo might impress at LaLiga Santander level this year.
Newly promoted Cadiz excitedly begin their first top flight season in 14 years on Saturday evening, showing off an all-new strike partnership of Alvaro Negredo and Choco Lozano. Their rivals Osasuna finished a highly creditable 10th place in their first season back in the top flight last year, and will be hoping to do even better this year, despite the late and serious knee injury suffered by their main man upfront Chimy Avila this week.
Valladolid will also be out to take another step forward this season with Sergio Gonzalez’s highly organised side having added some real attacking quality in Chilean winger Fabian Orellana. On Sunday afternoon, they host a Real Sociedad team whose fans are very excited by their big summer signing: former Spain international David Silva, who returns to a league he formerly graced with both Valencia and Celta.
Villarreal have also reinforced impressively during the close season by bringing in midfielders Dani Parejo, Francis Coquelin and Takefusa Kubo, while Unai Emery has arrived as coach. Visiting the Yellow Submarine on Sunday afternoon are new boys Huesca, who return to LaLiga Santander as LaLiga SmartBank champions after just one season away from the top tier.
Matchday 1 also conjured up a first big local derby, with a Valencia team being rebuilt under former Osasuna and Malaga coach Javi Gracia at home on Sunday evening to city neighbours Levante, who have added a pair of former Real Madrid youngsters Jorge de Frutos and Dani Gomez.
Sunday also sees Alaves host Real Betis, two clubs with new coaches in charge who are both old faces in LaLiga. Former Girona, Sevilla and Espanyol boss Pablo Machin has a new challenge at Basque side Alaves, while there are high hopes for Betis under the tutelage of ex-Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini.
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The six other LaLiga teams are not yet ready to kick off their 2020/21 LaLiga season, as their 2019/20 campaigns ran right into August due to the unique circumstances worldwide this year.
Reigning champions Real Madrid, with Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard back from a loan spell at Real Sociedad, should be stronger than ever this season. Los Blancos will have to wait to meet a Getafe team whose interesting additions during the window so far include Turkey international striker Enes Unal and Colombian attacker Cucho Hernandez.
New Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman will have another two weeks to prepare for his return to LaLiga, while blaugrana fans around the world will be relieved as captain Lionel Messi has announced his decision to stay at the Camp Nou. Their rearranged game will be against Elche, who have extra time to prepare for their first LaLiga Santander season since 2015/16 after coming through the play-offs to gain promotion in dramatic fashion.
The third rearranged game will be Atletico de Madrid vs Sevilla at the Wanda Metropolitano. Having added to their squads during the summer, both teams are likely to be battling towards the top of the table in a 2020/21 LaLiga season which is shaping up to be as exciting and competitive as ever.