Heat is on in every sense of the word as new La Liga season kicks off
Fans will be back in the stands after over a year of empty grounds when the new La Liga season kicks off this weekend in Spain. The opening round of matches start on Friday night when
MADRID: Fans will be back in the stands after over a year of empty grounds when the new La Liga season kicks off this weekend in Spain.
The opening round of matches start on Friday night when Valencia entertain Getafe after fate has decided that new Valencia coach Pepe Bordalas' first game for his new club is against the team he left at the end of last season to move to the Mestalla Stadium.
Valencia have had another summer without important signings, so Bordalas' influence will be key to their survival while it will be interesting to see if Getafe adopt a more attacking style under his replacement Michel Gonzalez.
It has been a low-key summer for Real Madrid, whose only new face is defender David Alaba and we will have to see if Carlo Ancelotti decides to trust Gareth Bale, who is back from his loan at Tottenham.
Real are without Toni Kroos with a groin injury for Saturday's visit to play Alaves, while Dani Cabellos is also sidelined with an ankle ligament injury and left-back Ferland Mendy has also been struggling with a muscle problem ahead of the league opener.
Results haven't been brilliant for Ancelotti in the run up to the new campaign and if Lucas Perez and Joselu hit form in the Alaves attack, the season could kick off with a surprise.
The first round of matches in the summer comes with Spain expected to bake in the first major heatwave of the year and it will be hot in Saturday's 5pm kick-off as Osasuna face Espanyol, who return to the top flight after a season in the second division.
Osasuna look to have improved in attack with Ante Budimir signing a permanent deal and Kike Garcia joining from Eibar over the summer.
Mallorca also celebrate their return to the top flight with a home game against Betis, who travel without midfielder, Sergio Canales, with an ankle injury, while new arrival Yousouf Sabely has a muscle problem and Cristian Tello has to serve a suspension from the end of last season.
Sunday's big game sees Barcelona at home to Real Sociedad as Barca start the post-Leo Messi era.
As well as being without Messi, Barca coach Ronald Koeman has several injury problems with Ansu Fati still not fully fit, while Frenkie de Jong, Oscar Mingueza, Ousmane Dembele, Marc Andre Ter Stegen and Kun Aguero are also sidelined.
There is also a doubt whether new signings Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia will be able to play as on Thursday they had still not been included into the first-team squad due to the same financial fair play issues that led to Messi's departure and with fans back in the Camp Nou, we can probably expect a 'difficult' atmosphere for club president, Joan Laporta.
Atletico Madrid kick off their title defense away to Celta Vigo in what promises to be an entertaining game if Celta maintain the swashbuckling style they showed under coach Eduardo Coudet.
Newly promoted Rayo Vallecano face a baptism of fire in every sense of the word as they travel to play Sevilla where temperatures are expected to climb well over 40 degrees centigrade during the day and still be hovering in the 30's when the game kicks off at 22:15 local time. The first round of games end on Monday as Roberto Moreno makes his debut as Granada coach with a difficult game at Villarreal, who pushed Chelsea all the way in the European Super Cup, midweek.
Athletic Club Bilbao aim to continue their pre-season form on their visit to Elche, who beat the Basque side 2-0 in the last game of last season to ensure their survival in the elite. IANS