Andalusia’s football is something unique and dynamic. Dynamic, especially in a way which means it isn’t consistently at the highest level. Settling in Spain’s first division, ‘La Liga’, is no easy task. Considered to be one of Europe’s most competitive leagues, even older, more established clubs struggle to remain at this level.
Quite recently, the quality of Andalusia’s teams has shifted. Where Málaga CF was once considered as a European superpower, they are now finding it hard to prevent relegation into the third league. Not so long ago, they faced a threatening bankruptcy. However, Málaga’s town hall realised the team formed a large part of the city’s culture and with various attempts at a buy-out, they managed to help and sell part of the club to a Qatari investment group.
This demise was caused not only by a lack of investment after the club was sold in 2010 to Sheikh Al Thani but also by the departure of several key players, such as Isco, Joaquín and Toulalan. These players were important to the club but left after a successful 2012/13 season in which they finished 6th in La Liga and reached the quarter-finals of both the Supercopa and the prestigious Champions League. The club bounced back from this, but never really returned to the level they were at previously.
Sevilla & Real Betis
Then, there is the famous Betis-Sevilla rivalry. Two major clubs in the same city, Seville. Betis recently rebuilt part of the stadium and can now host more than 60,000 fans. Sevilla is the more popular club internationally, competing in Europe almost every season. Betis’ fans are full of passion, but that can also be said for its rival. Twice a year, they meet and compete in a match which is almost as important as ‘El Clásico’ (Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona). This passion is reflected in the stadium’s atmosphere; club chants and the traditional clapping patterns influenced by flamenco. A newer club named Sevilla Atlético approached the situation with their youth, which initially worked, but now seems to be more tedious than expected.
Marbella CF, however, also deserves a mention. Their recent good form propelled them to the top of the 3rd league (a complicated division with 80 teams divided over 4 groups), but they narrowly missed out on promotion after reaching the play-offs. They are now competitive as ever, but the jump from the 3rd league to the 2nd is tough.
Córdoba CF was quite good a few years back, but as they built a new stadium, their football seemed to suffer and now they play in the 3rd league. Hopefully their new stadium will help them get back to the top.
Teams such as UCAM Murcia, Cádiz and Granada are also teams which are/ used to be competitors in the first two divisions.