LaLiga returns on June 11th with El Gran Derbi between Sevilla FC and Real Betis. The remaining eleven matchdays of the league season will be played consecutively over the following six weeks until July 19th.
After three months without football in Spain due to the global COVID-19 crisis, LaLiga is finally set to return. The season will kick-off again in grand fashion with the massive clash between Sevilla FC and Real Betis, known as El Gran Derbi serving as the first of the 110 matches left to play this campaign.
The league season will continue uninterrupted for the following six weeks until July 19th, the evolution of the pandemic in Spain and health authorities permitting. Those account for a possible thirty-nine days in a row with football practically every day, with matches at 19:30 and 22:00 CET (plus 14:00 and 17:00 CET on weekends), and with broadcast innovations: virtual stands, virtual fan audio and new camera angles.
Six weeks of passionate football with everything in LaLiga Santander still on the line as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid neck and neck in vying for the title, separated by just two points. The same gap exists between the third- and sixth-placed sides relentlessly fighting for European spots.
Meanwhile, a fierce battle is ongoing in the fight against relegation, with six teams in the mix. A host of world-class matches await us, including FC Barcelona vs Atletico de Madrid, Real Madrid vs Valencia CF, Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid vs Real Sociedad.
The restart has been made possible due to the efforts of LaLiga during the lockdown, in particular the exhaustive and comprehensive protocol developed together with the Spanish health authorities which allowed the clubs to return to training safely.
Over a month of Spring ‘pre-season’ meticulously adapted to a ‘new reality’ across society, and scrupulously followed by clubs and players. This effort to guarantee the safety of all professionals involved while ensuring the return of football will finally reap its reward with the restart of the season on June 11th (June 12 in the Philippines).
Representatives from LaLiga and its clubs, Valencia CF, RCD Mallorca and Real Valladolid CF are going to be in Manila this week to take part in the SPIA Asia international conference, which will be held on December 2 and 3 at the Grand Hyatt in Bonifacio Global City.
This year’s event is the fifth edition of the sports industry congress that will see 600 delegates and 60 international speakers come together to share knowledge and experiences about the latest trends in sports marketing, business strategy and international development.
The football industry will take centre stage, with LaLiga and its clubs once again to be showcased as role models thanks to their successful growth and internationalization strategies.
Maheta Molango, RCD Mallorca CEO; David Espinar, head of the president’s cabinet at Real Valladolid; and Josep Borrell, ValenciaCF‘s commercial strategy coordinator, will offer those in attendance an insight into the various internationalization strategies undertaken by their clubs, their links with and future plans for the Asian continent, as well as their relationships with their global fans and partners.
A number of LaLiga outfits have interests and ties with Asia through the presence of players from the continent such as, playmaker Takefusa Kubo of Japan, who’s currently on loan at Mallorca and Valencia’s South Korean forward Kang-in Lee. Meanwhile, Real Valladolid were one of the first clubs to establish such a link after they signed Japanese striker Shoji Jo back in 2000.
The institution will also be represented during the talks at the event, with Ivan Codina, LaLiga‘s managing director for South-East Asia, Japan, Korea and Australia; and Almudena Gomez, LaLiga delegate in the Philippines, set to deliver presentations. The pair are part of LaLiga’s comprehensive network of staff based across the globe. The organisation will also take part in a panel discussion which will focus on trends in the development of the football industry across the Asian leagues and how leagues contribute to the progress of the game at a local level, as well as LaLiga’s strategy and projects in the region.
The SPIA Asia 2019, organized by MMC Sportz and supported by Tourism Promotions Board Philippines will also be graced by a special guest in the shape of Real Valladolid President, Ronaldo “Il Fenomeno” Nazario De Lima, who will take to the stage on 3 December during the SPIA Asia “Straight Talk” before being awarded the SPIA Asia “Sport & Beyond” award.
Meanwhile, the summit will conclude with the annual SPIA Asia Awards Gala, which recognizes and celebrates excellence of the Asian sports industry. 450 submission from 47 eligible countries have been received to recognize the top achievers in 25 award categories including of the “Best Asian Sportsman & Sports Woman of the Year” and the “Best Asian Sports Team”. LaLiga has been shortlisted in Asia Top 10 in the accolade for the “Best Influencer Marketing Campaign of the Year”.
This year sees SPIA Asia 2019 will take place from December 2-3, 2019 at the Grand Hyatt Manila as part of the official activities of the 30th South East Asian Games.
In terms of LaLiga’s presence in the continent, the institution currently boasts three offices throughout in Asia (Singapore, China and India), whilst a team of 12 delegates are based across the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Australia, amongst other territories. In addition to having secured local sponsors and offering tailored social media accounts in several Asian countries, LaLiga has also signed various agreements with a number of local leagues and federations.
After 13 match days in the 2019/20 season, five clubs – FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico de Madrid, Sevilla FC and Real Sociedad – see themselves neck and neck in a fierce battle for supremacy in a campaign that could turn out to be the most memorable ‘battle royale’ ever in the recent history of the Spanish top-flight: LaLiga.
LaLiga has been instrumental to this author when he was still starting to learn about the beautiful game in his early teens, in a place where the most followed spectator sport is not football. With the glory years of Real Madrid shortly before the advent of the ‘Galactico Era’ and the awe of ‘El Clasico’ rivalry with a soon to re-emerge FC Barcelona towards its ‘La Sexta’ season, this writer has been caught by the spectacle and magic of LaLiga, not to mention the memorable campaigns of Valencia and Deportivo La Coruña when the dominance of the big two have been momentarily broken.
Fast forward to now, after being busy with the recently concluded Philippine domestic season and the international break that featured the Azkals’ qualifiers, it came as a surprise upon checking LaLiga’s standings the cut-throat situation in how the competition is panning out, as only six points (equivalent to only two wins) separate the league leaders, FC Barcelona, from 10th place, CA Osasuna, with four teams from sixth to ninth all sharing the same number of points, with 20, separated narrowly only by goal differences.
Another interesting detail to take note is Villarreal CF, the Yellow Submarine, despite showing potency up front with an impressive +7 goal difference, unbelievably find themselves languishing at 11th, proving that scoring goals alone does not define how good a squad is.
Such is how precariously poised the battles for the league title and European qualifications (Champions League and Europa League) are that a win could serve as a big boost while each loss could hand a devastating blow to each team’s LaLiga and European aspirations that all participants are forced to treat each match as season-defining. Never has such an almost equal level of competition at this point of the season been experienced ever and this year could turn out be one for the books.
As a matter of fact, according to LaLiga’s records, the meagre five points that currently separate the league leaders and the eighth place team, Granada CF, which is the highest non-European qualifying spot has been the lowest ever since the introduction of 3-points for a win in 1995.
It’s not just the usual powerhouses now
Another element that made this season more compelling and thrilling to watch and follow is the emergence of clubs which are mounting serious challenges to the current giants’ grip of supremacy in Spain.
It’s not just Real Madrid and Barcelona who have the capability to get a grip with the LaLiga trophy as perennial European silverware contenders, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, are hot on their heels and could very much wrestle for the honor of being the best in the land.
Also, clubs like Real Sociedad, Getafe, and Granada are showing great performances and promise with their squad relying mainly either on youth, homegrown talent and/or scouting. There’s also the re-emergence of traditionally strong clubs such as Athletic Club Bilbao, while RCA Mallorca and Levante UD were able to pull off upsets by beating footballing giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona.
In short, this 2019/20 LaLiga could turn out to be an all-out, free-for-all melee in jostling for maximum three-points each match day with a chance that the league winners could be a welcome, yet unexpected, surprise package.
Hang tight, don’t blink!
As previously mentioned, never did this situation ever happened before in all the years that this author has followed LaLiga, where teams are piled up on each other in what could turn out to be a furious race to the top, separated only by the minutest of margins.
Now, as LaLiga returns to action this weekend with each match having the ability to decide a season-long campaign as either a success or a failure, 2019/20 could be poised to be an instant classic and be immediately bumped up as one of the biggest highlights in the history of Spanish pro football.
Hang tight, don’t blink. This might be the most volatile LaLiga standings and the fiercest battle for the silverware football fans will see for years!
Spain’s top-flight football club competition, LaLiga, has begun to turn the wheels for 2019/2020 season which is being considered to be its grandest yet in celebration of its 90-years of existence as one of the best domestic leagues in the footballing world.
In a kick-off event for the Philippine media held last September 2, 2019 in Makati, the league represented by Almudena Gomez Benito (Global Network Delegate for the Philippines) and Ivan Codina (Managing Director for Southeast Asia – Australia, Japan and South Korea), LaLiga presented what football fans are about to expect in its biggest season yet in terms of technical scope.
IT’S IN THE DETAILS
Already providing one of the most cutting-edge fan experiences in professional club football (who can forget those cool 360 degree replays?), LaLiga continues to raise the bar for the recently started 2019/2020 season as it further implements improvements in broadcasting technology from the number of cameras (including super slow-motion viewing angles) up to the auditory experience with the introduction of Dolby Atmos and 4K video quality broadcast in select matches.
The league, considered by many as arguably the strongest in relation to historical performances of its representatives in international club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and FIFA Club World Cup, featuring the most successful clubs ever to grace the sport with the likes of Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, and Sevilla FC to name a few is set to give a treat this season to football followers as it starts to usher in its most ambitious year yet in terms of viewer experience.
A NEW “HEART OF LALIGA”
A new element that gets added in the 2019/2020 season is the new ball that fans will see in matches in a new deal Puma Football as the new match ball supplier.
The development is significant as LaLiga has been supplied by a different brand for the past several years, making the switch both exciting and bold as it provides a new flavor on the pitch ushering something fresh to loyal fans through the years.
AN EXCITING SEASON UNFOLDING
Despite the new season just being in its third match day, based on what transpired in all of the fixtures involved, the race to the top could turn out to be an interesting one.
Bannered by its young gem and new signing Joao Felix, head coach Diego Simeone and the rest of Atletico de Madrid find themselves in first place of the standings followed by a seemingly rejuvenated Athletic Bilbao and an always threatening Sevilla FC.
With Real Madrid at fifth and Barcelona in an unfamiliar eighth place due to upsets and unexpected draws, the chase is on for the big clubs as they try to regain their respective footings with the possibility of more surprise results in store.
2019-20 season is definitely poised to be an interesting marathon as who will find themselves at the summit come the its conclusion.
ALPHONSE AREOLA RETURNS TO LALIGA
France’s emerging star goalkeeper, who is of Filipino origin from both parents, just joined Real Madrid for a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain.
With his Filipino heritage, such a move back to Spain by the former Villarreal shot-stopper in the club with probably the biggest profile and history, could further boost LaLiga in the eyes of Filipino sports fans.
The optimism in this loan-move, as one of the best footballing talents in the world who traces his roots to the Philippines, could definitely add interest to the Southeast Asian nation.
SEGUNDA DIVISION IN YOUTUBE
Meanwhile, Spain’s second-tier, the Segunda Division, formally named as LaLiga SmartBank, will be available for live streaming in Youtube in selected countries.
What is good about this move and partnership by the league with Youtube is the Philippines is one of the countries that have free access to these matches and content.
Featuring storied clubs such as Deportivo La Coruna, Racing Santander, Malaga, and Real Zaragoza, along with other clubs that make up a productive conveyor belt of the biggest talents in football access to this quality league is a boon for Filipino football fans who have teams to root for in the second division.
BEST SEASON EVER?
Considering the very promising 2019/2020 LaLiga Santander season as the best ever, is quite premature at this moment from a sporting level, but with the improvements in terms of the technical aspects in presentation, and the accessibility of LaLiga SmartBank for Filipino football fans – not to mention Alphonse Areola’s on-boarding with Real Madrid, it can be said that this young season is already the best in these criteria.
It’s definitely a great way to celebrate 90-years of amazing football, which all began back in 1929.
Now it’s time to calendar those crucial matchdays and enjoy the as Spain’s best clubs fight for the title!
Key LaLiga matches for the remainder of 2019
September 9 – Madrid Derby (Atletico de Madrid vs Real Madrid)
October 20 – South Madrid Derby (Getafe CF vs CD Leganes)
October 27 – El Clasico (Barcelona vs Real Madrid)
November 10 – Seville Derby (Real Betis vs Sevilla FC)
December 8 – Valencia Derby (Levante UD vs Valencia CF)
LaLiga Santander is available in the Philippines through BeIn Sports App or via BeIn channels in cable or satellite TV services that include the channel/s via subscription. LaLiga SmartBank matches can be viewed live via Youtube’s streaming services.
Ceres-Negros FC holds the distinction of being the only Filipino club to reach the knockout stage of the AFC Cup in their history of participation in the tournament proper. One of the biggest factors in the Negrense side’s ability to go far in those international campaigns is none other than Coach Risto Vidaković .
The Serbian head coach has been instrumental in The Busmen’s rise to prominence, making a name not just in Philippine football, where he guided his talented squad to back-to-back PFL championships, but also on the Asian front with some watershed moments and wins against more fancied sides during the AFC Champions League qualifications and AFC Cup tournaments.
Now in the midst of the 2019 season of the AFC Cup, Ceres-Negros once again head into the ASEAN Zone Semifinals. As they gear up for the first leg match against Hanoi FC in Panaad in a fortnight, here are a few words of wisdom and insights from the mentor himself which he shared with the 5th Minute of Added Time right before a training session.
The first thing to be brought up was on what has been Coach Risto’s inspiration on Ceres-Negros’ highly technical approach to the game, to which the gaffer responded that it boils down mainly to the type of players at his disposal.
“It depends on the players. We have that kind of players who are small, but technically good and fast. We cannot (apply) another kind of football because it’s very hard to play long balls if you don’t have tall players so we try instead to play with our build-up and passing game – a playmaking type of football. I just adapt on the type of players that we have.”
With regards to his influences in football, particularly the teams that impacted him the most when it comes to the philosophy and style (or even the culture) of play, Coach Risto responded that it is more of the country that influenced him the most.
“I played a long time in Spain and (been involved with) Spanish football. I’m already (living for) twenty-five years in Spain. I’ve coached there, and I think it’s the country that I bring with me (when it comes to) the style of football. Spanish football is known to be having technical and very good (style of) football.”
Touching on the most influential coaches and managers, Coach Risto was asked on the matter to which he replied by mentioning one name.
“You know, every coach has his own philosophy. The styles of football which are played now, and everywhere… you can choose. You can play defensively, you can play offense-minded football, but everyone also chooses the style (in consideration of the type of) his players.
“It’s up to you what (style) you want to recognize and what you need, and to adapt the best for your players. It’s not easy.
“I had many coaches in my career. One of them is, of course, Luis Aragonés. I learned a lot from him and he is practically the man who built the Spanish National Team that won the European Cup under him and the same team that won the World Cup later and many titles after him. I think he is (the one) who made the team. I was lucky to have him as a coach and I think he influenced me.”
Risto Vidaković may have begun his footballing career in Serbia, reaching such a high level to the point of playing for one of the country’s biggest clubs, Red Star Belgrade, before moving to Spain in 1994. His opportunity to play under the famed Spanish coach, Aragonés, who guided La Roja to the Euro 2008 title, happened during the 1997-98 season in Real Betis where the legendary coach mentored the club for a season.
Lastly, on how he wants to be remembered when it comes to his legacy with Ceres-Negros, Risto Vidaković simply replied:
“I think what we did is already something historic. It’s there. Nobody can change it. What we did for these past three years is not easy – to be in the finals of the AFC Cup ASEAN Zone two times in a row (2017, 2018), and this year (2019) when we are on the way to the semifinals against a tough opponent and hopefully be in the finals again… I hope Philippine football can recognize that.
In parting, Ceres-Negros FC’s architect of its seemingly on-going “golden age” in professional club football stated his hopes for the beautiful game in the country.
“I hope Philippine football can grow and it can bring the crowd to the stadiums to watch football because I think the Filipino is very talented for football. I think it’s the perfect sport for the Filipino. Because Filipinos have the perfect profile, they’re fast, and technically very good (with the right training). And I think if we can bring many kids to play football then we don’t have to worry about the future (of the sport).
“But for now, we are still building something that is very far away from (the level that) we need (to be at).”
Head coach Risto Vidaković and his Ceres-Negros FC squad are set to face Hanoi FC for the first leg of the 2019 AFC Cup ASEAN Zone Semifinals on Tuesday, June 18 at the Panaad Stadium while the away leg in Hanoi, Vietnam is set on June 25.