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The Estadio Municipal Butarque is ready to welcome Barça for the very first time

This Saturday at 1.00pm CET, FC Barcelona are heading into unchartered territory. This will be their first ever meeting with La Liga’s newest team, Club Deportivo Leganés. Until this season, they were only known to most Spaniards from predicting second division results on the Quiniela – the state sponsored football pools. But now Lega are mixing with the big boys, and it’s time to learn a bit more about them.

Leg there be rock

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.

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 has reached the unprecedented heights of the Primera División.

Veggie gifts

The club’s nickname is the ‘cucumber growers’ (pepineros) after the extensive production of said vegetable in the city. Moreover, they have pledged to present every visiting club this season with a basket of their famed local produce!

Leganés’ local rivals are Getafe, but there has been no South Madrid Derby for eleven years. The latter had bigger fish to fry in La Liga. But all that changed last season. Getafe were relegated and Leganés have taken their neighbours’ place at the top table of Spanish football!

Fragrant shirt

The blue and white Leganés shirt has a unique feature this season – a scratch n’ sniff club crest! Yes, it features active ingredients that when rubbed give off the smell of freshly cut grass. “The shirt that tastes of glory” they call it. “Now we’re in Primera, we want to taste it!”

Leganés president Victoria Pavón is the second female boss in the league this season – the other being Amaia Gorostiza of Eibar.

 

José Mari García and Samuel Eto'o: Shared pasts at Barça and Leganés

The Eto’o connection

Perhaps the biggest connection between Leganés and Barça is Samuel Eto’o. Long before becoming one of the most popular players to ever grace the Camp Nou, the Cameroonian legend was on the books at Real Madrid. He got few chances at the Bernabéu and spent the 1997/98 season on loan to Leganés, where he played 30 games and scored four goals.

A less well-known link is José Mari García, who joined Barça midway through the 1994/95 season. The midfielder only featured in 12 league games and was sold to Betis at the end of the campaign. He’d also play for Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao before winding up at Leganés in the 2000/01 season.

Masia productions

There are two players in the current Leganés first team that spent time at la Masia. Toni Dovale spent four years in the Barça academy as part of the same generation as Bojan Krkic and Thiago Alcántara. He left for Celta at the age of 16 and ended up playing for the first team under Luis Enrique, who opted to drop the winger into the left of his defence. Dovale’s travels since then have included a spell in the MLS at Sporting Kansas City.

Defensive midfielder Lluís Sastre rose up through the youth ranks of Masia and played for two seasons with Barça B. First team opportunities never came for the Mallorcan and instead he played for Huesca and Valladolid before joining his current club last summer.


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