Real Betis Balompié
Sevilla will welcome their regally endorsed cross-town rivals Betis back to the Liga when they meet at the Estadio Benito Villamarín on the first day of the new season.
In his first campaign as Verdiblancos coach, former Betis striker José ‘Pepe’ Mel led the 1935 champions back to the top flight after a two-year absence. Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina provided 45 goals together as the one-time Champions League entrants secured an 11th promotion to the elite, and a sixth second-tier championship.
From Vallecas in the Madrid suburbs, Rayo (literally ‘lightning’) have traditionally yo-yoed between the top two divisions, but because of recent financial problems they spent four seasons in the third tier in the 2000s. S
Second in the promotion race in 2010/11, the team generally regarded as the third-biggest capital side now return to the Liga after an eight-year gap. They do so as one of four Madrid clubs, along with Real Madrid, Club Atlético de Madrid and Getafe.
The 2001 UEFA Cup quarter-finalists, who were founded in 1924, have lost key defender Coke to Sevilla and will be keen to strike a deal for Emiliano Armenteros, who scored 20 goals last term while on loan from the same team.
The Sevilla-Betis game will not be the only Andalusian derby in the Liga, with Granada’s re-entry to the elite after a 35-year absence lining them up for two meetings with their nearest neighbours, Málaga.
El Graná were playing in the third level of Spanish football two years ago, yet completed their upward surge by overcoming Elche CF in a promotion play-off. Odion Jude Ighalo got the goal that clinched promotion, and the Nigerian is one of a number of players loaned to Granada from Serie A club Udinese.
Formed in 1931, Granada have previously enjoyed 18 seasons in the Liga, earning a highest position of sixth on two occasions: 1971–72 and 1973–74.