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The rescheduling of Saturday’s La Liga Clasico at the Camp Nou left a gap in the weekend’s schedule – and also an opportunity to see how the other half [or maybe other 99%] live within Spanish football.
While the Clasico has a claimed TV audience of 500 million, there were just over 10,000 at Leganes’ tidy Butarque stadium for Saturday’s game against Mallorca, and nobody watching in the UK due to its 3pm kick-off. But the game meant just or much, or maybe more, to those involved.
Ahead of their first ever Primera Division meeting, the two teams had very contrasting weeks. One enjoying the high of beating Real Madrid just 18 months after emerging from Spain’s semi-professional third tier, the other dealing with a 0-2 local derby defeat at Getafe which left them on just two points from their first nine Primera Division games.
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No team has survived such a start during the three points for a win era, and Leganes coach Mauricio Pellegrino felt he had no option but to resign. But then neither ex-Barca defender and Alaves coach Abelardo Fernandez nor former Almeria and Huesca boss Francisco Rodriguez were interested in taking on the challenge. And talks with ex-Sunderland, Real Betis and Bordeaux manager Gus Poyet broke off inconclusively on Friday.
So youth team coach Luis Cembranos stepped up to pick his first ever La Liga XI on Saturday. Ex-Rayo Vallecano and Espanyol midfielder Cembranos, 47, made three changes in personnel and also changed shape from 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3. But the main hope was for a change in fortune for a team who had not been playing as badly as their results suggested.
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