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Asturian derby: Real Oviedo vs Real Sporting - Mexican rivalry & an Arsenal legend returns

This Asturian derby is a clash which boasts almost 100 years of history and which currently has an important Mexican connection.

Real Oviedo and Real Sporting will face off once more this Saturday, September 9th, at 18:30 CEST at the Estadio Carlos Tartiere. This LALIGA HYPERMOTION Matchday 5 fixture is one of the most attractive matches in Spain's second division. But, just why exactly is this regional derby so special?

Well, this derby has long been one of the most passionate and intense in Spanish football, no matter what competition or what level of the Spanish footballing pyramid the two clubs were meeting in. There are many roots to this rivalry, but the main factor is the natural rivalry between the two cities, a rivalry which dates back beyond football even further in time.

Gijón, the home of Real Sporting, is the largest city in Asturias, one of Spain's autonomous communities and a region located in the north of the country, while Oviedo is slightly smaller but is the Asturian capital city. As is the case in many regions, states or nations with a similar dynamic, there is a natural back and forth over whether the largest city or the capital city is the better and more successful one.

Real Sporting were founded in 1905, and Real Oviedo in 1926, with the clubs providing natives of each city an easy, relatable channel through which to express their natural rivalries. Since that first derby match in 1926, which Real Sporting won 2-1 on a wild and windy Asturian day, these teams have met time and time again in various different competitions.

However, there was a 14-year gap in this derby between 2003 and 2017 and this explains why modern-day meetings between the two clubs are extra special.


In 2003, Real Oviedo dropped all the way down to the fourth tier of Spanish football and, after yo-yo-ing up and down between the fourth and third tier, the club faced the real threat of folding. Yet they were saved when fans, former players and Mexican businessman Carlos Slim bought shares in the club, allowing them to survive and to gradually work their way back up the Spanish footballing hierarchy, reaching LALIGA HYPERMOTION in 2015. At that point, Real Sporting were at LALIGA EA SPORTS level, so it wasn't until Los Rojiblancos' relegation in 2017 that these two historical rivals could meet again.

As such, the derby at El Molinón-Enrique Castro Quini on September 9th, 2017, was the first in 14 years, three months and 22 days. Now, exactly six years on, they face each other once again, but with an additional twist: Real Sporting are now also Mexican-owned.

Mexico's Grupo Orlegi entered into the ownership of Real Sporting in June 2022. Led by businessman Alejandro Irarragorri, the conglomerate is a growing presence in the sports industry and owns Liga MX clubs Atlas FC and Santos Laguna, as well as shares in clubs across the United States, Colombia and Scotland.

Moreover, in July of the same year, Grupo Pachuca acquired 51% of the shares of Real Oviedo, becoming the majority shareholder of the Asturian club. Grupo Carso, which is chaired by businessman Carlos Slim, still holds 20% of the shares.

Grupo Pachuca also has a significant background in the world of sport. Pachuca and León, two of the most important clubs in Liga MX, as well as Chilean side Everton or Uruguayan second division team Atlético Atenas de San Carlos, are also owned by the group.

Beyond the commercial interests of both clubs in Mexico, this fact has sparked a real buzz in the country ahead of this derby match, especially given that there are supporters' clubs of both teams in Mexico and given that the Mexican-Asturian connection has intensified in recent years.

This will also be the first derby since Santi Carzorla's return to Real Oviedo. The two-time European champion with Spain has returned to his former home 20 years after departing, which came as a major boost for the fans due to the symbolism of this prodigal son's return to the Estadio Carlos Tartiere.

There are, therefore, various reasons not to miss this Saturday's match, which could be crucial for Real Oviedo since they're currently bottom of the table with just two points. They'll be looking to overcome a Real Sporting side who, despite having won two games and being seventh in the table, have yet to score or take a point away in LALIGA HYPERMOTION in 2023/24.

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