Friday’s South Madrid Derby offers an impassioned alternative to the superstar rivalries of Spanish football

The vast majority of football fans only know one Madrid derby. The one played out between two superpowers of the modern game at two of the most stunning stadiums in Europe twice each season. Whether at the Santiago Bernabéu or Wanda Metropolitano, the supporters in the stands will know that they’ll witness 90 minutes dictated by complicated tactics and intertwining sub-plots. The South Madrid Derby between Leganés and Getafe is much simpler. You play for your people.

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“You can tell it’s the derby by the people. Having a festival of football and doing it with both teams in the top flight is really good,” Leganés boss Mauricio Pellegrino said in his pre-match press conference.

“It’s something that we need to live with excitement, with sportsmanship, with football so that it’s a party. We must give our all on the pitch.”

Getafe manager José Bordalás is also looking forward to the game: “It’s a derby, it’s always physically demanding, a plus, an extra. The players know this, it’s always been a derby. They [the two clubs] have met very little in the Primera, fortunately they’re both now in the Primera and it’s going to be very attractive, we’ll go into it with excitement.”

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With the derby experiencing some crowd trouble in the past, Bordalás is confident the fans can behave: “I trust both sets of fans, I hope they’ll come and show that. Unfortunately we saw what happened in Argentina [Copa Libertadores final] and we have to give an example to all and respect each other mutually, this is football.”

Both teams are coming into this one off the back of impressive results in La Liga last weekend. Getafe were 3-0 winners against in-form Espanyol while Leganés picked up their first away win of the season with by a 4-2 score line in Valladolid.


Brief History of the Derby

Getafe’s industrialised past already creates a contrast with Leganés’ background in modern technology. The two clubs have spent most of their footballing existence in the lower reaches of Spanish football, with Leganés only earning promotion to the top flight two and a half years ago. While both teams were initially founded in the 1920s, they first met officially in 1948 in the 5th tier of the Spanish football pyramid. From then on, both Madrid sides moved between the lower divisions, meeting each other occasionally on the way.

After merging with another local club in 1983, Getafe surged through the divisions, earning four straight promotions to reach the third tier by 1987. They were also joined by Leganés in that fourth promotion campaign, seeing both teams renew their rivalry in the third tier of Spanish football. The match-ups in the 1980s and 1990s were the most ferocious in any part of the derby’s history. Leganés manage to escape Getafe’s clutches when they were promoted to the Segunda División for the first time, but that was only until their rivals joined them 12 months later.

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The two sides went their separate ways in 2004 with Getafe’s promotion to La Liga coming at the same time as Leganés’ relegation back to the third tier. They didn’t meet again until 2017, when both clubs found themselves in the top flight – for the first time in Leganés’ case. Last season’s meeting at Butarque saw Guerrero miss a penalty and Alvaro Jimenez score one as Getafe clinched a memorable win in their neighbour’s back yard. The animosity and hostility starts again on Friday evening as Leganés host Getafe in the first installment of the derby in this season’s unpredictable La Liga.


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