Real Madrid, Barcelona: when does LaLiga 2020-21 kick off?
Ahead of the fixture announcements for the 2020-21 Liga season, we take a quick look at a potential post-Messi landscape for the new campaign.
The draw for the 2020-21 LaLiga season will take place on 31 August, two weeks later than the previous campaign kicked-off on August 16, 2019. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic the start of this campaign has been put back officially until September 12, although assuming the LFP persists with the deeply unpopular Friday night fixture in 2020-21 the first game will take place on September 11. The new campaign is scheduled to end on 23 May, 2021.
Real Madrid are the defending champions and the new arrivals in the top flight are Huesca, Cádiz and Elche, who only secured their return to Primera a week ago after the annual play-off fest that marks the end of the campaign in Spain’s lower divisions.
Mallorca, Espanyol and Leganés were relegated at the end of the 2019-20 season, the latter in no small part due to LaLiga’s decision not to allow the Cucumber Growers to sign a replacement for top scorer Martin Braithwaite, despite allowing Barcelona to invoke an emergency loophole in the transfer rules due to Ousmane Dembélé’s long-term absence through injury. Many neutrals will be wishing Leganés a swift return to the top flight.
Fixtures to watch for
Barcelona will be denied its twice-yearly derby in the absence of the Periquitos, who were relegated to Segunda for the first time in 26 years precisely after losing against Barça on 8 July.
All eyes will be on the therefore be on the dates for the Clásico encounters between Barcelona and Real Madrid, which have a tendency to fall between October and December and March-April, the Madrid derby and perhaps the pick of the bunch when it comes to single-city rivalries, the Seville derby between Betis and Sevilla, which could be a cracker with Julen Lopetegui in charge of the latter and Manuel Pellegrini, the architect of Malaga’s incredible run to the Champions League quarter-finals in 2012-13 taking over at the Villamarín.
Messi and Ronaldo a go-go
In a bit of a blow to the prestige of LaLiga, as it stands it seems that the 2020-21 season will be the first campaign in a decade and a half without either Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo pulling on their boots to take to some Spanish stadia turf.
Messi made his professional debut in October 2004 so this season will also witness the first Clásico without either the Argentinean or the Portuguese on the books at Barça or Real Madrid since a 2-1 win for the Camp Nou outfit at the Bernabéu on 25 April, 2004.
There have been few arrivals in LaLiga as yet to offset such a huge potential departure but fans will be happy to see David Silva back in Spain, the 34-year-old joining Real Sociedad from Manchester City.
Emery, Pellegrini back in LaLiga
Unai Emery and Manuel Pellegrini both return to LaLiga after spells abroad. The former PSG and Arsenal boss has been out of work since leaving the Gunners last November and will dust off his famous DVDs at Villarreal, who decided to sack Javi Calleja again despite a fifth-placed finish.
Former Real Madrid and Málaga boss Pellegrini will take charge of Real Betis after spending a season attempting to fashion West Ham into something coherent. As far as LaLiga goes, Betis are a pretty close approximation of the Hammers so developments at the Villamarín will be one to keep an eye on.
Javi Gracia also returns to one of the hottest seats in the division at Mestalla after his spell at Watford – but don’t expect Voro to have packed up his chalkboard just yet after the perennial interim took charge of Valencia for a sixth time at the tail end of last season.
Elsewhere, the return of Pablo Machín from China will keep football hipsters in thrall to the fortunes of Alavés while Jorge Almirón’s eclectic career will enjoy its first taste of LaLiga as he assumes charge of newly promoted Elche after Pacheta bizarrely resigned two days after the side’s play-off triumph.