LALIGA preview: First derbies, and Celta’s centenary clash with Real Madrid

Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona (right) in action against Villarreal in last season's LaLiga. (PHOTO: LaLiga)
Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona (right) in action against Villarreal in last season's LaLiga. (PHOTO: LaLiga)

MATCHDAY 3 of the 2023/24 LALIGA EA Sports season promises to be a memorable one, with huge matches coming up across Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

It’ll be a special weekend no matter the result for Celta Vigo, as the Galician club just turned 100 years of age and they’ll celebrate that centenary with a home duel against Real Madrid on Friday night.

There are other big games too, including the first regional derbies of the new season, with Cádiz meeting Almería and Rayo Vallecano taking on Atlético Madrid.


The first of the weekend’s fixtures takes place in the Canary Islands, as Las Palmas will spar with Real Sociedad on Friday evening in a contest of two teams known for their possession football.

Neither side has tasted victory yet this season, so both will be giving their all to try to take the first three points on offer this weekend.

The action then moves to the peninsula and to the north-west corner of it, where there will be a party atmosphere in the city of Vigo. That’s because Celta just celebrated the club’s centenary on Wednesday, and their first fixture after turning 100 years of age will be on Friday night against a mighty Real Madrid side, one which has been led to back-to-back victories by new arrival Jude Bellingham.

It’ll be a fascinating duel between these two historic sides, not least in the dugouts, where former Real Madrid coach Rafa Benítez will try to get the better of Carlo Ancelotti.

Three matches follow on Saturday, starting with the first regional rivalry match of the season as Andalusian sides Cádiz and Almería do battle on the south coast.

It’ll be a very Andalusian Saturday evening, in fact, as the next two matches take place in the same region, with Granada seeking their first point of the season when Mallorca come to town and with Sevilla also looking to earn their first point when hosting a very attack-minded Girona side, one which conquered Los Hispalenses twice last term.

Reigning champions Barcelona feature in the first of Sunday’s matches, visiting Villarreal for an afternoon kick-off.

Both these teams bounced back to take their first wins of the season in Matchday 2 and it should be a thriller on Sunday evening. The battle for control of the midfield will be especially interesting, as Dani Parejo, Étienne Capoue and co. go up against the likes of Pedri, Gavi, Frenkie de Jong and İlkay Gündoğan.

Valencia will host Osasuna in the next of Sunday’s fixtures, with Los Che looking to keep up their sensational start.

Pepelu’s penalty in Matchday 2 meant Valencia CF started a new league season with two wins from two for the first time since 2011. They also won their third fixture back in that season, so will hope to do so again here.

Sunday night concludes with a duel between two of the most historic Spanish teams in Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis.

The away side will travel north with their various new signings, such as Marc Roca or Isco, having settled in nicely, but Athletic have the Williams brothers and just saw Nico assist Iñaki last matchday.

Both of Monday’s games this matchday are taking place in the capital, starting with Getafe vs Deportivo Alavés. The Basque side put on a show last Monday as they defeated Sevilla 4-3, and will approach this game at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez full of confidence.

Then, the final fixture of the round is Rayo Vallecano vs Atlético Madrid. It’s the team from Vallecas who enter this matchday with more points, six compared to four, but Atleti have won seven and drawn one of their past eight against Rayo Vallecano, and will hope to end Matchday 3 above their capital city neighbours in the LALIGA standings.

Watch LALIGA EA Sports live this weekend on your local broadcasters.