Last weekend we saw the start of the English Premier League but now it is the turn of the superstars from Spain to get their campaigns under way as we see the return of the Spanish top flight La Liga.
Spanish clubs dominated the European stage last summer with Sevilla taking the Europa League title for a third year in a row and Real Madrid claiming an unprecedented 11th European Cup. Expect the rest of the Europe to be watching what happens in Spain this weekend with eager eyes.
Who plays who this weekend?
The action gets under way on Friday as Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna kick off their seasons at home against newly promoted Osasuna and Eibar respectively. Malaga will be looking to improve on last season 8th place finish and push on for a European spot whereas you get the feeling that Eibar will be happy with another season of solidarity after finishing 14th last time out.
Defending Champions Barcelona kick off on Saturday as Real Betis are the visitors to the Nou Camp. Last season the Blaugrana fired in 112 goals in La Liga (more than anyone else) and with Messi, Neymar and Suarez all remaining at the club, the expectation is this season will not be too dis-similar.
Joining Barcelona in starting their campaign on Saturday is Granada CF who host Villarreal (who will still be on a high after securing Champions League Football for this term after an impressive 4th place finish last time out) and Europa League Champions Sevilla who have Barce’s local rivals Espanyol visit the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
European Champions Real Madrid kick off their campaign on Sunday with a tricky away trip to Real Sociedad and the will be targeting a first La liga title since the 2011/12 season.
Also on Sunday Sporting de Gijon host Athletic Bilbao and the 2013/14 Primera División Champions Atletico Madrid look forward to a visit from last season’s Segunda’s Divison champions Deportivo Alavés.
Monday see’s the Completion of the opening fixtures as Celta Vigo play host to promoted Leganes and last season’s most disappointing team Valencia welcome Las Palmas to the Mestalla Stadium. Last season’s 12th place finish was simply not good enough for a team used to competing with Europe’s elite and pressure will be on Valencia coach Pako Ayestarán to make a fast start.
What to Expect?
More of the same! As is the norm the championship race will be between the usual suspects Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. All three are largely unchanged heading into the new season and offer little in the way of value when it comes to making a bet.
Better value may come from who will claim the coveted fourth spot and final Champions League slot. Villarreal impressively ended fourth last term but Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Malaga and Valencia will all be vying for the position this time.
Get on Valencia to put last season nightmare campaign behind them and snatch 4th place from their rivals and break back into the Champions League.