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FC Barcelona host Leganés in this Saturday (1.00pm CET) as La Liga resumes following the international break. It’s time to take a closer look at Los Pepineros (The Cucumbers)…
WHERE ARE THEY FROM?
The city of Leganés (population 186,000) lies on the south-western outskirts of Madrid, and to most madrileños is best known for being home to Parquesur, one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. One of its most popular attractions is a street named after heavy metal kings AC/DC, who came to town for its inauguration. They have a road named after German rocksters The Scorpions too. Awesome people!
Cucumber farming is an important part of the local economy, and that’s where they get their peculiar nickname from (los pepineros), that being the Spanish word for the vegetable.
Formed in 1928, Leganés played in the lower leagues until they enjoyed an eleven-season spell in the second division from 1993 to 2004. They never came close to being promoted to the top flight and eventually dropped back down to the third tier. A decade later, in 2014, they were back – and two years later the club reached the unprecedented heights of La Liga and have stayed there ever since.
Leganés wore similar blaugrana shirts to Barça at first, but later adopted green in honour of their nickname, although they have since switched again to blue and white.
Their local rivals are Getafe, but they very rarely met after the latter started playing in the first division from 2004 onwards. Now Leganés are up there too. Who would have imagined at the start of the century that the South Madrid Derby would now be a first division fixture!
The other side of Leganés vs Barça
Named after the local patron saint, the Estadio Municipal de Butarque was opened in 1998 and currently holds 12,450 spectators, although there are plans to expand it to 16,000.
HEAD TO HEAD
Since Leganés were promoted to the top flight, the clubs have met six times. Barça have won five of them, but Leganés got their first victory at Butarque last season.
Leganés 1 Barça 5 (Messi 2, Suárez, Neymar, Rafinha)
Barça 2 Leganés 1 (Messi 2)
Leganés 0 Barça 3 (Suárez 2, Paulinho)
Barça 3 Leganés 1 (Messi 3)
Leganés 2 Barça 1 (Coutinho)
Barça 3 Leganés 1 (Dembélé. Suárez, Messi)
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The season has not gone well so far. Leganés have lost 9, drawn 3 and won just one (1-0 against Mallorca in October) and are tightly locked to the bottom of the table and, already seven points adrift of avoiding relegation.
They have only scored seven goals all season, and not once have they managed to get more than one in a game.
International caps: Roberto Rosales (Venezuela, 79), Kenneth Omeruo (Nigeria, 51), Martin Braithwaite (Denmark, 39), Youssef En-Nesyri (Morocco, 32), Dimitris Siovas (Greece, 18), Chidozie Awaziem (Nigeria, 14), Kévin Rodrigues (Portugal, 3), Jonathan Silva (Argentina, 2)
Top scorer 2019/20: Martin Braithwaite (3)
Full back Marc Navarro spent almost a decade at La Masia as a youngster but turned professional at Espanyol. He’s currently at Leganés on loan from Watford.
Winger José Arnaiz was at Barça B two seasons ago and made four first team appearances under Ernesto Valverde. Three of those were in the Copa del Rey, where he had three shots and scored from all of them!
Centre back Rodrigo Tarín (pictured below) was also at Barça B from 2015 to 2018.
Rodrigo Tarín during training
Following the sacking of Mauricio Pellegrino and an interim period with Luis Cembranos (curiously two me n who had brief spells at Barça in their playing days), Leganés recruited the services of Javier Aguirre this month.
He is a familiar face in Spain after managing Osasuna, Atlético Madrid, Zaragoza and Espanyol in the past, and as well as his own Mexican national team, he has also managed Japan and Egypt.
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