By Aristo Dotse [in New York]

With their global expansion and popularity drive in mind, the Spanish Primera Liga, otherwise popularly known around the world as simply La Liga, is using Sunday’s big El Clasico decider between Real Madrid and Barcelona to build a bigger fan-base for the Spanish football league in the United States, particularly in the hot-bed New York City.

In this huge city of many Spanish-speaking people who are already huge fans of both Barcelona and Real Madrid and for that matter Spanish football, La Liga finds Sunday’s big Spanish derby – the biggest football derby of all – as an ideal and big opportunity to further enhance their brand in New York, where baseball, basketball and American football are more popular.

As a result, La Liga, considered the second most popular football league in the world behind the English Premier League, will stage a rooftop pub El Clasico party in the heart of New York City, in Midtown Marhattan, on Sunday to celebrate the game, which to a large extent could decide the destination of this season’s league title, with Madrid already three points above their great rivals and one game in hand. Thus, anything less than a Barca victory would put Real in firm control to dethrone their rivals as champions and claim their first league title since 2012.

The two sides, which are scheduled to meet in the pre-season International Champions Cup tournament in July in Miami, Florida, fought a one-all draw game in December. But with hungry Barca out of the Champions League following an unusual 3-0 aggregate loss to Juventus, a tougher game than expected could be on the cards at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid and Spain legend Raul Gonzalez – who only recently ended his glittering playing career at New York Cosmos – will make a special appearance at the El Clasico Rooftop party, where beIN Sports, the official USA broadcaster for La Liga, will do a special half-time televised interview show with him and former Barcelona player, the Italian Gianluca Zambrotta.

The highlight of this special occasion is the viewing of the game on a large screen in the 24,000 sq. ft. indoor and outdoor venue, where there will also be a six-hour VIP reception prior to kick-off and a DJ entertainment along with a surprise live musical performance.

Source: Soccernet newspaper