LaLiga is organizing a summer tour in the US and Mexico that features four teams. Notably, that set of four teams does not include the two most popular teams in the Spanish top flight, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Instead, the four clubs traveling with LaLiga are Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Real Betis.
An announcement from LaLiga North America stated that those four teams will play a total of four games. Intercity rivals Sevilla and Betis play one another in Guadalajara on Aug. 2. On the same day in Monterrey, Atletico Madrid takes on Real Sociedad. Three days later, there is a doubleheader in San Francisco at Oracle Park, the home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants. Atletico faces Sevilla, and Sociedad battles Betis.
The set of games are a bid to boost the growing presence of LaLiga in North America. However, there may be concerns over how effective this competition can be without titans like Barcelona and Real Madrid. Right now, LaLiga and those two clubs have a tense relationship. Both still are pushing to make the European Super League happen, which is a concept LaLiga is firmly against.
In a LaLiga statement in February 2023, league president Javier Tebas said the Super League will wreak havoc on domestic leagues.
“Domestic leagues run the risk of disappearing with a Super League format,” Tebas said. “If their model is based on ‘several divisions’, with an elite group ensuring they stay in the top flight, their model is not 100 percent open as they falsely promise.”
LaLiga US tour goes against Barcelona and Real Madrid
The LaLiga tour going on without Barcelona and Real Madrid could damage the popularity of the games, particularly in the United States. While there are representatives from El Tri on Real Betis and Sevilla, these four clubs do not have the same impact of UEFA Champions League-winning clubs such as Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Even worse, both clubs are planning games in the United States for the summer of 2023. That includes a potential third Clásico in the United States. Real Madrid played Barcelona in Miami in 2017, then they played again in Las Vegas this past summer. Both of those games, which were fairly independent from LaLiga, were massive successes. The Miami game brought in 1.7 million viewers on ESPN.
TV coverage and tickets for the LaLiga tour across the US and Mexico are still not available. Yet, based on LaLiga North America’s deal with Relevent, LaLiga now has production studios in Mexico, and the league has a media rights deal with ESPN, where most of the LaLiga TV schedule features on ESPN+.
The fact that Real Madrid and Barcelona are not involved in LaLiga’s official summer tour of the United States is a concern. With LaLiga battling against the popularity of the Premier League and Liga MX in the United States, LaLiga needs a united front. Instead, the split between the top two clubs and LaLiga is a detriment to what could have been so much bigger and better.
PHOTO: IMAGO / NurPhoto
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