As the new La Liga season cools off after a rip-roaring opening matchday we have been able to witness many similarities and differences likely to feature more predominantly as the season progresses. Whilst Barcelona continued to pulverise the life out of teams bordering below the European qualification line like a well oiled machine even under new management our attention turned to another team shorn of a personality or two. It seemed as if Bilbao had gone away with their buccaneering European dynasty fable of last year and instead endured a tumultuous summer more reminiscent of a game of Buckaroo! Minus Martinez and Llorente Bilbao were swatted away by an impressive Betis side; Benat orchestrating proceedings in the manner Martinez would likely have mirrored.
Furthermore two of La Liga’s newest teams achieved wins on their return from the Segunda division which begs the question as to whether they possess enough to remain there next year. It may well come down to the archetypal final day hamster squabble of the past few seasons but satisfactory performances were shown by all allowing them full right to argue their place for next season even at this early stage.
Had Celta Vigo not allowed Malaga to step in and rudely snatch all three points with five minutes remaining we could have seen all three teams succeed on the opening day and prove their credentials. Having said that it was a 16 year old who grabbed the winner for Malaga so perhaps that says more about Celta than anything…
Regardless of that, or even the fact that Malaga were depleted following a summer of unease, Celta pushed and probed and were good value for at least a point as Quique de Lucas threw away countless chances. On another day, perhaps one that didn’t hold as much pressure as the opening weekend, the club would have three points to their name. Confusingly for such a big game, the crowd appeared rather sparse, an observation which spread across the country. Irrespective of this Balaidos is expected to be filled to burst when neighbours Deportivo arrive.
Deportivo themselves got off to the best of starts against Osasuna having spent just one year outside of the top flight. A 2-0 victory has propelled the club into 3rd place and dreaming of a more comfortable season than their last in La Liga. Despite losing Andres Guardado in the summer Depor should survive with relative ease having regrouped well under Jose Luis Oltra. The experience and longevity of Juan Carlos Valeron should stand them in good stead and provide a few goals for the strikeforce, as he did at the weekend.
Real Valladolid were the last team to enjoy the pleasure of promotion and are considered as the weakest of the trio to come up. However they still managed to defeat Real Zaragoza on Monday thanks to a single goal from Oscar (no, not that one). Zaragoza, along with Rayo Vallecano, Granada and possibly Espanyol are four teams at risk of relegation themselves and could prove the saviour for Valladolid should their form tumble.
All three teams gave a positive showing over the weekend and gave themselves a great platform to begin their La Liga seasons with. We can’t draw any conclusions after round one but there are evident signs of these teams making a decent fist of life in La Liga, especially Deportivo.
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