Fil-French keeper Alphonse Areola is one of the big storylines in this season's La Liga.

Bob Guerrero on Sep 03, 2019 05:07 PM
 Spanish La Liga of special interest to Pinoy football fans
Alphonse Areole has been loaned to Real Madrid from Paris St. Germain. (Image from Alphonse Areola's Twitter @AreolaOfficiel)

Arguably the world's best football league, La Liga, is underway, and Pinoy fans have a big reason to take notice.

Not only is this Spanish competition the home of stars like Lionel Messi, but now a Filipino is joining one of the league's biggest clubs.

Alphonse Areola, a Frenchman of full-blooded Filipino ethnicity and World Cup champ, is being loaned to Real Madrid from French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain. It is very possible that Areola could compete for the starting position in Real with incumbent Thibault Courtois. This is just one of the many exciting storylines underscoring the 2019-2020 season of La Liga Santander, as the Spanish top tier is formally known.

Areola's new team is smarting from a lackluster 2018-2019 season and is hungry to show they can be one of the league's elite sides once again.

Barcelona, the champs, have corralled Antoine Griezemann from Atletico Madrid and made him Messi's strike partner. Another big off-season signing for the Blaugrana is Dutch midfield maestro Frenkie De Jong, who was acquired from Ajax Amsterdam.

Atleti have used the transfer money earned from the sale of Griezeman to grab 19-year old Portuguese phenom Joao Felix from Benfica. He has already scored for Los Rojiblancos in a come-from-behind win against Eibar. Atleti are currently atop the table with a perfect 9 points from three matches, two points in front of Athletic Club Bilbao.

Meanwhile another intriguing talent to watch out for is Nabil Fekir, a gifted attacking midfielder from France picked up by Real Betis from Lyon.

Other teams hoping to challenge the hegemony of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, are Sevilla and Valencia.

There are three new sides in the league, having earned promotion from the Spanish second-tier, known as La Liga SmartBank. CA Osasuna, RCD Mallorca, and Granada CF are all eager to make a splash.

There are several dates that La Liga fans should mark on their calendars. El Clasico, the twice-yearly clash between Real Madrid and Barca, will have its first installment in Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium on October 27. Madrid will entertain the Catalans in the reverse fixture on March 1 next year. The Madrid Derby will take place on September 29 at Atletico's stunning two-year old stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano.

Other enticing clashes are the the Seville Derby between Real Betis and Seville on November 10 and the Valencia Derby pitting Levante UD and Valencia CF on December 9. October 20 sees two South Madrid sides joust in their derby, Getafe CF and CD Leganes. Leganes will certainly have support in one corner of Iloilo. The team recently sent representatives to the Ilonggo town of the same name to boost youth football there.

La Liga Santander is available on BeIN Sports, which is on channels 204 and 205 on SkyCable. You can contact SkyCable about adding BeIN to your roster of cable channels. If you don't have cable then you can download the BeIN Sports Connect app on your mobile phone. You can stream a week of top-class football for just P100, while a month is only P200. The Season Pass, which gives you unlimited access until July next year, is available for P1550, with the offer good only until September 12. With the exit of the English Premier League from the BeIN roster of leagues, La Liga becomes the hottest football competition for Pinoys to enjoy.

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