The world will tune in for Saturday’s 232nd edition of the Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid, but the majority of fans will turn off the TV screens as soon as the full time whistle blows. They shouldn’t.
Coming up immediately after the match at Camp Nou is the Galician derby between Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna. It is a great shame that this derby will be overshadowed by the meeting of Spanish football’s big two as the Galician derby is one of the best rivalries in Spain and this Saturday’s meeting is one of the most important in several years.
Both teams are fighting completely different battles, but those battles are equally important. Celta, this weekend’s hosts, are gunning for a Europa League berth that would bring their first European qualification in a decade. It was the 2006-07 season the last time Celta played in continental competition and the Vigo club has been down to the Segunda division and back in the meantime.
Eduardo Berizzo’s side are currently in fifth place, but it is still possible they could finish one higher and claim a Champions League spot, while it is also possible for Celta to miss out on European qualification altogether. Every point between now and the end of the season is vital.
Another team that has been down to the Segunda and back is Deportivo, but they are fighting a completely different battle. Despite a start to the season that was equally as brilliant as Celta’s, Deportivo have struggled since the turn of the year. Their first win of 2016 in any competition only came in their last match, a scrappy 2-1 home win against the League’s bottom side Levante.
Before that Deportivo had lost seven and drawn seven of their 14 matches this calendar year. The Levante win certainly helped stop the rot, but they remain just six points clear of relegation and their La Liga status is far from confirmed.
All of the extra consequences make this a fascinating and intriguing matchup, but the Galician derby is always a sight to behold, even when there is seemingly nothing more than local pride at stake. There has not been a goalless derby since last millennium, while it is always intense given that the players care as much as the fans about the Monday morning bragging rights since a lot of them are local lads.
The local aspect to this derby is exemplified in each team’s top scorer, two players who recently returned to their boyhood clubs after time away on the continent. Vigo’s Iago Aspas has scored 11 times since returning last summer after spells at Liverpool and Sevilla. Back where he belongs, he is back to scoring ways and has never been happier.
Lucas Perez of Deportivo, meanwhile, also signed a deal to return to Galicia last summer after playing in Ukraine and Greece and has contributed 15 goals this season, including the opener in Deportivo’s 2-0 win over their rivals last November.
It is all set up to be a fantastic match on Saturday evening. The Clasico will certainly be an excellent warm-up act.