LNTUP

First El Clasico of this La Liga season gets re-scheduled

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La Liga president Javier Tebas has announced that the first league Clasico of the season will be played on Saturday, Dec. 23, at 1 p.m. CET with Real Madrid hosting Barcelona.

The top game of the 17th round of La Liga fixtures was originally scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 20.

This one will be the third El Clasico of the season after the two matches these two teams played in the Spanish Super Cup.

December will be a busy month for Real Madrid, as Los Blancos will have to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. Given Real could feature in the Club World Cup final in Japan on December 17, the European champions have been given extra recovery time. That tournament will be hosted in the United Arab Emirates, meaning that Madrid will have to make a long trip to get back to Madrid and start training for El Clasico against Barcelona, which could very well be decisive in the race for La Liga title.

Los Blancos are already four points behind Barcelona after just three games played in this young season.

Confirming the news via Onda Cero, Tebas said: “It [Madrid vs. Barca] will be played on Saturday, Dec. 23 at 1 p.m. ( CET ). We have recently notified the national and international TV operators of this so that they know because that week what we are going to do in La Liga is have games on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday [Dec. 19-23].

“On Saturday, we will have three games. We want to make it a very special week of football because of the Christmas holiday. We are working hard to make it special.”

When asked why certain league games this season will be played at 1 p.m. local time, including the Clasico on Dec. 23, Tebas said: “There are many Spanish soccer fans in the world. And in Singapore and Australia that is a good time for them to watch football.

“I’m interested in all the fans, those that go to the stadium and those that don’t. Those that don’t go to the stadium and around the world also pay while watching it on TV. There has to be a balance between them and that’s what we work for. The numbers are there, we are growing.

“We have 30 percent more TV audience internationally and we have seen an increase in stadium attendance by almost two million people in the past three years. We have to respect all the fans.”

The last La Liga Clasico in April, which Barcelona won 3-2 at the Bernabeu, was aired in 185 countries and reached 650 million TV viewers worldwide.