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Barça are off to Leganés for the second road trip of the Liga season. They’re the newest team in the Spanish First Division, so you can be forgiven for not knowing that the ‘cucumber growers’ hail from the southern outskirts of Madrid.
For those who might need even further help with their Spanish geography, and Spanish football geography in particular, then allow us to help you to tell Sporting from Deportivo and to place Alavés and Eibar on the map with this quick guide to the places the team’s Liga travels will take them in 2016/17.
And if you are planning on visiting Spain at any time during the next few months, then who knows? Perhaps you’ll be able to catch Barça playing away!
The North Coast
Barça travel to Galicia up in the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula twice this season, to play Deportivo (March 11/12) and Celta (October 2). The region has its own language, which is similar to Portuguese, a proud Celtic heritage and a climate and landscape that’s more reminiscent of the British Isles than the typical image of Spain. La Coruña (home of Deportivo) and Vigo (home of Celta) are two historic seaports on the Atlantic coast, where you can enjoy some of the finest seafood not just in Europe, but anywhere in the world!
On September 24, Barça visit Sporting, who hail from Gijón, the largest city in the region of Asturias on the north coast. It’s another bustling seaport with plenty of reminders of a history that dates back to medieval times.
The Basque Country and Navarra
Further along the north coast is the Basque Country, with its own totally unique language and culture that also extends into neighbouring Navarra to the immediate south. Together they are home to a whole quarter of the teams in La Liga this season, so although Barça have already visited Athletic Club, from the largest city in the region, Bilbao, they will be back to play Real Sociedad (November 26/27), Eibar (January 21/22), Alavés (February 11/12) and Osasuna (December 11/10).
Real Sociedad are from San Sebastián, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain in its delightful setting around the Bay of La Concha. Eibar is a manufacturing centre about 50km inland and is the smallest city with a top flight side this season, where the local people are immensely proud to have been put on the map by the amazing rise of their football club. Alavés take their name from the province of Alaba and are based in the Basque capital Vitoria-Gasteiz, whose beautifully conserved medieval streets and squares, two cathedrals, music festivals and amazing wines all combine to make it one of the highest ranked places to live in all of Spain.
Osasuna, meanwhile, are from Pamplona, which is of course most famed for its San Fermín festival in July, but with its splendid architecture and parks it is a beautiful (and considerably quieter!) place to visit at any time of year.
Madrid, capital of Spain, needs little introduction, with its Prado and Reina Sofia Museums, Retiro Park, Royal Palace and a host of other monuments, as well nightlife that keeps going strong until dawn. The trips to face Real Madrid (April 22/23) and Atlético Madrid (February 25/26) are two of Barça’s highest profile games of any league campaign, but they will also in the city to face a side playing in the top flight for the first time ever. Leganés lies on the southern outskirts of Madrid and is well connected to the city centre by public transport. A place that has a street named after rock band AC/DC is surely worth a visit!
Mediterranean Coast and Andalusia
The Valencian Community on the Mediterranean coast has some of the finest beaches in the country, and as well as being home to its most famous dish, paella, is also home to two of the teams in La Liga this season. The vibrant seaside city of Valencia is the third largest in Spain and Barça will be there on October 22/23 for one of the most traditionally difficult away trips of the season. And in the first game after the festive break, on January 7/8, they’ll be going to Villarreal, who are based about 60km up the coast in the city of the same name.
Andalusia is, in many minds, the region that typifies the ‘real’ Spain, with everything from flamenco to gazpacho and the hottest beaches in continental Europe. Its largest city, Seville, is an amazing place to visit, with La Giralda and many other monuments in the third largest old town in Europe. There are two chances to catch Barça playing there, in a re-match of the Spanish Super Cup against triple Europa League champions Sevilla (November 5/6) and also against their fierce local rivals Betis (January 28/29).
Barça will also be heading to a hugely popular tourist destination, Granada (April 1/3) with its young, studenty atmosphere and Moorish history crowned by the stunning Alhambra. Why not make a week of it and take the short trip down to the coast just one week later? Barça visit Málaga (April 8/9), which lies right in the heart of the Costa del Sol and is one of the most popular places for sun, sea and sand seekers in the world.
The Canary Islands
For those of you that prefer the long haul, the presence of Las Palmas in La Liga for the second year in a row means another chance for a trip to the Canary Islands on May 13/14, the last away fixture of the season. On the island of Gran Canaria, just off the coast of Morocco, you are guaranteed that the weather will be scorchio!
Barça’s second-to-last away fixture of 2017 will be on April 29/30, and it’s to considerably more familiar territory. That’s when they’ll be travelling up the road for the local derby with Espanyol.
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