El Centrocampista

SOUTHERN HEAT – It’s derby day in Andalucía

By Heath Chesters

Tonight see’s the return of one of the most historic footballing derby clashes in Spain.

It’s an Andalusian affair but the city of Sevilla plays little part in our story.

Instead, step forward los clubes de fútbol, Málaga and Granada.

A match-up that will more than likely slip under the radar of the Madrid and Barcelona press, but a fixture that will have fans of both clubs bursting with anticipation.

The former may now be aiming for bigger things following their much-publicized financial investment, but the match-up also allows us to indulge in our favourite pastime of historical and informative (who needs school?) musings.

Are you all sitting comfortably…

The first encounter between the two clubs, under the former names of Recreativo Granada and Malacitano, was during the 1933/1934 season in the equivalent of what is now the Tercera División.

Granada CF in 1974/75 - the year before the editor was born....

Recreativo Granada would win both encounters that season, 3-1 at home and 2-1 away.

Recreativo Granada eventually became known simply as Granada CF, whilst the Malacitano side would undergo numerous name changes and mergers over the years, culminating in their current name, Málaga CF.

Both clubs and their supporters have had their share of ups and downs through their history. The last time the clubs met in the Primera División was during the 1974/1975 season. Granada won the first match 1-0 at home, whilst the return match against the then named CD Málaga finished in a 1-1 draw. Málaga were relegated that season, finishing in 17th place, whilst Granada survived the drop in 16th place. The following 1975/1976 season would then see Granada themselves relegated, whilst CD Málaga regained promotion back to the Primera División.

Since then, the most recent competitive matches between the clubs were in the Segunda B, between the 1995/1996 and 1997/1998 seasons. During that period, the margins were very tight, with three wins for Granada and three draws. Málaga won the Segunda B title though, followed by a second  consecutive promotion the following season from the Segunda A to Primera. A feat which would eventually be repeated by Granada over the most recent two seasons.

The overall statistics for the clubs, having met on 62 occasions competitively, shows a pretty even picture. 23 wins for Granada, 20 draws and 19 wins for Málaga.

Much has changed for both clubs in recent times. The arrival of Sheikh Al Thani has changed the fortunes of Málaga CF immensely, with major investment and expectations of European qualification. Meanwhile Granada CF secured strong ties with Udinese, bringing in players of sufficient calibre to gain consecutive promotions to the highest level.

Both clubs have also seen a considerable influx of new players during the summer.

Málaga have brought in a wealth of experience, with Toulalan, van Nistelrooy, Mathijsen,  Joaquín and Cazorla, whilst also looking to the future with promising young starlet Isco.

Granada themselves have retained the backbone of their promotion winning side, whilst also making many improvements. Central defenders Diakhaté and Pamarot bring a wealth of experience, plus a friendly club relationship with Benfica has seen several players arrive from their ranks.

With both teams losing their opening matches, to their fierce rivals from the Andaluz capital of Seville (Real Betis and Sevilla), they will be desperate to register their first three points of the season. Arguably having made so many changes during the summer, both clubs are hoping their new acquisitions will be able to gel quickly into their respective teams and produce results.

Both sets of fans are looking forward to resuming a fierce but on the whole, friendly rivalry, ahead of what promises to be an exiting game between the two clubs.

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