LaLiga minnows Cadiz stunned Real Madrid despite having the smallest budget in Spain’s top-flight and only signing Man City old boy Alvaro Negredo last summer… so, after 15 years away, can they claim another massive scalp against Barcelona?
- Cadiz were promoted to LaLiga in the summer after a 15-year top-flight absence
- Andalusian club have already picked up wins at Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao
- They made just one signing in the summer – ex-Man City striker Alvaro Negredo
- Cadiz also have the smallest budget in the division and are a fan-focused entity
- After claiming the scalp of Real, can they now defeat Lionel Messi’s Barcelona?
So far, 11 games in, it’s been a season full of surprises in LaLiga, with a plethora of overachieving clubs sitting high and mighty in the top-half of the table.
And while leaders Real Sociedad have grabbed most of the headlines after their rapid start out of the blocks, newly-promoted Cadiz currently sit comfortably in sixth after an exciting start to the campaign.
The highlight? Undoubtedly, a win against champions Real Madrid on their own patch, albeit at their training ground while the Santiago Bernabeu undergoes renovation.
Cadiz celebrate after scoring against Real Madrid, on a memorable afternoon for the club
Anthony Lozano (R) netted the winner for Cadiz’s first victory against Real in nearly 30 years
Cadiz conceded just two shots on target to Zinedine Zidane’s side in a 1-0 win on October 17, sealed by Anthony Lozano’s smart finish in the first-half, giving them their first victory over Real Madrid in almost 30 years.
It is something of a honeymoon period for the Andalusian club after 15 years out of the Spanish top-flight, a period which saw them plummet to the depths of Spain’s regionalised Segunda B league with its four divisions.
But after a 2019-20 campaign in which they finished second in Segunda Division, thus claiming one of two automatic promotion spots, Cadiz are back with the big boys – and are thriving in their new surroundings.
And don’t think it’s been a case of plain-sailing in 2020, amid the uncertainty brought about by the covid-crisis. They’ve had their obstacles in the past few months, too.
Take the opening day of this season, for instance. Head coach Alvaro Cervera, who has achieved two promotions and has turned the side around since his appointment in 2016, was not on the touchline for the first clash against Osasuna.
Self-isolating due to a positive coronavirus test, a starting XI which included eight players who had never played in LaLiga fell to a 2-0 defeat. It looked as though it would be a tough year.
But since then, Cadiz have raised more than a few eyebrows across Spain. They have lost just once on the road – a 4-0 defeat at title-chasing Atletico Madrid – and have claimed the scalps of Athletic Bilbao at San Memes and fellow newcomers Huesca, who pipped them to the division two title last season.
Cadiz coach Alvaro Cervera have turned the club’s fortunes around since his arrival in 2016
All this, with a team which made only one new addition in the summer, as they work within financial constraints which makes them the team with the smallest budget in LaLiga.
That arrival was veteran striker Alvaro Negredo, familiar to fans in England for his time at Manchester City and Middlesbrough.
Now 35, the former Spain international was plying his trade in the Middle-East at Al-Nasr – but jumped at the chance to return to his homeland and is currently the team’s top scorer with two LaLiga goals in eight appearances. He’s also registered three assists.
Ex-Man City striker Alvaro Nergredo, now 35, moved to the Spanish south coast in the summer
Their budget limitations made a deadline-day link to Negredo’s former team-mate at City, Yaya Toure, even more far-fetched.
But, ultimately, away from the players and the management, this is a club in the hearts of many across the nation due to its devotion to its fanbase.
Outside their 25,000-capacity Ramon de Carranza stadium, there is just one statue – and it’s dedicated to the fans.
The incredible scenes which followed confirmation of Cadiz’s promotion in July tells the story. Thousands of supporters – admittedly ignoring social distancing guidelines – lined the streets to celebrate the return of their team to the pinnacle of Spanish football.
Cadiz fans lined the streets after they were promoted to LaLiga after a second-placed finish
Supporters celebrated promotion with fireworks at the Puertas de la Tierra fountain in Cadiz
And, in quite frankly an incredible gesture, some fans reaped the rewards for their loyalty, as president Manuel Vizcaino honoured a pledge he made to match-going fans if they gained promotion: a free season ticket.
Of the 16,000 season ticket holders at the club, around 10,000 met the threshold of attending every home league game open to the public last season, which was 15 games, and they received a free season ticket for the 2020-21 campaign.
In addition, those who missed just one game were entitled to a 75 per cent reduction to their season ticket next season and those who missed two games received a 50 per cent reduction – anyone who missed three matches received a 25 per cent reduction to their season ticket.
Now, granted, as of the beginning of December fans have not been able to return to stadiums in Spain due to an escalation of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, when supporters – hopefully – do return to the terraces gradually in the new year, most of them will be there having not paid a penny.
Cadiz go into the weekend sixth in the table and just two points off the top four places
Their 25,000-capacity Ramon de Carranza stadium will be empty for the visit of Barcelona
So, to Saturday, and a clash against Barcelona, who are badly struggling in LaLiga so far this season.
Cadiz will fancy their chances of springing another surprise against Lionel Messi and Co. With their fanbase there in spirit, Cervera’s side will be motivated to pull off a top-team double after their win against Real.
After all, a slogan at the top of their stadium reads: ‘To return is to win.’ Ten weeks in, Cadiz are following that message almost to a tee.
Watch Cadiz vs Barcelona at 8pm on Saturday on LaLigaTV. Sign up today at https://premiersports.com/subscribenow
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