Welsh pride at stake in Premier League's new local derby

Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:15pm EDT
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By Mike Collett

(Reuters) - The Welsh cities of Cardiff and Swansea will bring their fierce rivalry to the top flight of English soccer for the first time on Sunday in an occasion that will capture the imagination of fans far beyond the borders of Wales.

Saturday's game between Arsenal and Liverpool will have a major impact at the top of the Premier League, and champions Manchester United need to kickstart their season at Fulham, but few matches will generate the passion on show in the south Wales derby at Cardiff City Stadium.

Swansea City's Danish manager, Michael Laudrup, who knows a thing or two about rivalries having played for Lazio, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Ajax Amsterdam in his glittering career, is anticipating another special experience.

"It doesn't matter if it's Lazio v Roma, Copenhagen v Brondby, Real Madrid v Barcelona or Juventus v Torino, whatever it is or whatever country it's in, you know it's always something special because it means so much to so many people, especially the fans," he said.

"They want to win every game but some games are more special to them.

"A lot of people are talking about it, people walking down the street are talking about it and how much they want to win it. But that's OK because the players understand how important it is for the fans."

Cardiff and Swansea have played each other relatively infrequently because they have spent so many seasons in different divisions.

Liverpool have met Everton 218 times, Spurs have played Arsenal 171 times and Manchester United have clashed with Manchester City on 165 occasions, but there have only been 60 Swansea v Cardiff games with Swansea winning 24 and Cardiff 20.   Continued...