La Liga returns on Friday night with the first game of the segunda vuelta being one of the most closely contested derbies in Spanish football.
At first glance, Leganés versus Getafe might not seem to be a classic La Liga rivalry, but with only three miles on the map separating Butarque from the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez and over 90 years of clashes taking them from the Madrid regional leagues all the way to the top flight, it’s a derby like no other in Spanish football.
The fact it ever made it to the top flight is an achievement in itself. In the year Getafe achieved their historic first promotion to the top flight, Leganés were relegated to Segunda B where they would stay for the next ten seasons. While Getafe reached two Copa del Rey finals and competed in Europe, Leganés suffered the indignity of facing off in a derby against their rivals’ B team.
Then when Leganés won an unexpected promotion to La Liga in 2016, fate again intervened with Getafe’s relegation robbing fans of the long-awaited derby. They didn’t have to wait much longer as Getafe’s promotion the following season meant that in the 2017/18 season, the South Madrid derby could finally take its place in La Liga.
The historic moment came on September 8, 2017, with Getafe taking the honours in a 2-1 win at Butarque. The return fixture at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez was a 0-0 draw. Last season, they fought out a 1-1 draw at Butarque in December before Leganés got their first top-flight win in the fixture in March, the 2-0 win helping them stay up while damaging Getafe’s push for the Champions League.
Earlier in the season, Getafe’s victory in the reverse fixture spelled the end for Mauricio Pellegrino’s spell in charge of Leganés, with Los Pepineros seemingly cut adrift at the bottom of the table and heading for relegation. However, the man they brought in to replace him, former Atlético Madrid coach Javier Aguirre has inspired an upturn in fortunes. A four-match unbeaten run, including key victories at Butarque against direct rivals Celta and Espanyol, lifted them off the bottom for the first time this season and a win against Getafe would take them out of the relegation zone.
On the other hand, Getafe’s start to 2020 has been somewhat chastening. After sealing progression from their Europa League group, earning themselves a plum tie against Ajax, they suffered a heavy defeat against Real Madrid in their first game back after the winter break and last weekend were unceremoniously dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Segunda B side Badalona. Manager José Bordalás will no doubt demand a reaction from his squad.
Leganés’ preparations have been disrupted with the news that Youssef En-Neysri has departed for Sevilla. The Moroccan international was their top scorer last season and his departure would leave them even more dependent on Martin Braithwaite for goals – the Danish forward has scored six of Lega’s 16 goals in La Liga this season.