LaLiga Santander Matchday 35 preview: Sevilla FC and Real Betis meet in El Gran Derbi as the race towards Europe heats up
There are just four more matchdays remaining in the 2022/23 LaLiga Santander season, meaning every point is so valuable as teams fight for their objectives. That’ll be especially true in El Gran Derbi on Sunday night, as Sevilla FC and Real Betis meet in the Andalusian capital with both clubs hoping to qualify for next year’s UEFA competitions.
It is in Andalusia that the matchday begins, as Cádiz CF host Real Valladolid in a duel that is all about avoiding relegation. These two teams are currently 16th and 17th and level on 35 points, just one point above the relegation zone, so this is a huge six-pointer in the battle to avoid the drop. It’ll also be a very special game for Cádiz CF coach Sergio González, who used to be the manager at Real Valladolid. All he’ll be thinking about right now, though, is how to steer his current club to another season in LaLiga Santander.
On Saturday, there are five fixtures and each one of them is important in its own way. Seventh-placed Girona FC vs fifth-placed Villarreal CF is first up and this is a duel between two sides currently in the European qualification spots, so they’ll both be hoping to stay there.
Athletic Club vs RC Celta follows, with the Basques just outside the European places and hoping to make a return to continental competition. They’ll have to be careful, though, because RC Celta have won 2-0 on each of their previous two visits to San Mamés.
Two matches take place simultaneously at the 18:30 CEST time slot on Saturday, with UD Almería vs RCD Mallorca and Getafe CF vs Elche CF. Both the home fanbases will hope to cheer their teams towards the three points, given that UD Almería and Getafe CF are both at the heart of the relegation battle and are both hoping that their home form can lead them to safety.
On Saturday night, the newly crowned champions FC Barcelona will return to the Spotify Camp Nou to take on Real Sociedad. A huge party is expected as the Barça fans celebrate their title-winning squad. The fanbase will hope for another victory, but fourth-placed Real Sociedad will be a tough test. La Real haven’t won at the Spotify Camp Nou since 1991, but this is one of the best Real Sociedad units in a long time.
Four more matches follow on Sunday, starting with Rayo Vallecano vs RCD Espanyol. This is a crucial fixture for both teams, but for very different reasons. In the case of Rayo Vallecano, they’ll be looking for a fourth home win in a row to keep their hopes of European qualification alive, while the Catalan club know they need a win to give themselves a chance of avoiding relegation.
Atlético de Madrid are back in action in the next game and they’ll be looking to bounce back against CA Osasuna. Atleti fell to a shock defeat at bottom-placed Elche CF last weekend and want to return to winning ways as they aim to finish ahead of Real Madrid, but Los Rojillos have a lot to play for too as they’re chasing a European spot and have Ante Budimir and Ez Abde in fine form.
Valencia CF vs Real Madrid is next up and this is always one of the most highly anticipated fixtures on the calendar for fans of Los Che, who’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mestalla this weekend. This season, it’s an especially important occasion as Valencia CF are just three points above the relegation zone, so there is a lot at stake for the home side. Another reason why this is a game well worth tuning in to is the fact that Real Madrid’s 10 visits to Mestalla over the past decade have produced 37 total goals, working out at 3.7 goals per game on average. Entertainment is guaranteed.
Matchday 35 then concludes with El Gran Derbi between Sevilla FC and Real Betis. This is always a huge fixture, as the city of Seville comes to a standstill to enjoy this epic rivalry. This season, it’s a very important game given that Sevilla FC are pushing to continue their good form and to qualify for Europe, while Real Betis also maintain hopes of sneaking in to the top four. With both sides giving their all for local pride and for the crucial three points, this should be a thrilling way to conclude the weekend’s action.