The La Liga season will finally get under way this weekend after an agreement was reached between the Spanish football league and the players’ union over unpaid wages which saw the original planned start to the La Liga season delayed. With plenty of highly-anticipated matches to get our teeth into including an Andalucian derby between Seville and Malaga, here’s our previews and predictions to the weekend’s matches.
Sporting Gijon v Real Sociedad
This one will no doubt boil down to a close encounter as mid-table also-rans Sporting Gijon host Real Sociedad at El Molinon this Saturday. Some improved form at the back end of last season saw Manuel Preciado‘s Gijon finish in a respectable 10th in the La Liga table whilst their basque opponents managed to avoid the drop by just 2 points. Both sides have signed a hand-full of new talent in preperation for the new season most notably including Arsenal loanee Carlos Vela who is spending the season at Sociedad. This one will undoubtedly be close but home advantage will prove crucical and we fancy Gijon to nick this one 1-0.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Sporting Gijon 1-0 Real Sociedad
Valencia v Racing Santander
Valencia are overwhelming 2/5 favourites with bookies Bet 365 to open their La Liga account with a win on Saturday despite the loss of their star winger Juan Mata who made a £23.5 million move to Premier League big boys Chelsea this week. Racing Santander were one of the many clubs involved in last season’s relegation scrap and with barely any squad strengthening carried out this summer, this one should be a comfortable 3-0 victory at home for Valencia.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Valencia 3-0 Racing Santander
Granada v Real Betis
La Liga new boys Granada face a tough test as they come up against fellow new faces Real Betis at the Estadio Benito Villamarin Saturday evening. Betis regained top-flight status in some style last season finishing top of la Segunda division following their shock relegation the year before whilst Granada took the play-off route to promotion. Granada have been busy in the transfer market this summer acquiring none other than Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar on loan from Benfica and the young Scottish forward Ikechi Anya who until recently was struggling to gain a starting place in English non-league Oxford City. Granada are slight favourites for this one with home advantage but La Liga Blog believes opening day nerves will get to both of these sides and has gone for a 1-1 score draw.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Granada 1-1 Real Betis
Atletico Madrid v Osasuna
Our newly appointed writer Tom Wellman recently wrote about the trials and tribulations Atletico face after losing David De Gea and Sergio Aguero this summer so it will be interesting to see how the rojiblancos fare against perennial strugglers Osasuna on Sunday. The new acquisiton of Falcao for Atletico should help to fill the void left by Aguero and despite Osasuna looking to build on their respectable 9th place finish of last season, Atletico should have enough about them to see this one off comfortably 2-0.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Osasuna
Athletic Club Bilbao v Rayo Vallecano
La Liga new boys Rayo Vallecano from Madrid will a face tough opening fixture on Sunday as they travel up to the Basque country to face Athletic Club Bilbao at the San Mames. Athletic themselves edged out Atletico Madrid for a European place last season on goal difference and with Fernando Llorente set to have yet another scintillating season in front of goal after netting 18 last year, will Rayo have what it takes to stop Athletic in this tricky opening fixture? Probably not which is why we’ve gone with a 3-1 home win prediction for this one.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Rayo Vallecano
Seville v Malaga
Time for Malaga to put their money where their mouth is after this summer’s colossal spending as they take on Seville in this weekend’s Andalucian derby. No fewer than nine new faces including the likes of Ruud van Nistlerooy and Jeremy Toulalan have been added to Malaga’s line-up this season but Seville have also done some spending of their own bolstering their squad in all areas of the field. In truth Manuel Peligrini needs time before his Malaga side can really gel which is why Seville should edge this 2-1.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Seville 2-1 Malaga
Real Zaragoza v Real Madrid
On the back of their disappointing Super Cup defeat to Barcelona and humiliating display of behaviour from their manager Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid really need a convincing win on Sunday to keep the critics off their back. Real Zaragoza will be optimistic after already recording an invaluable 3-2 victory at the back end of last season but they should be lucky if history repeats itself – a 1-3 away win for Real Madrid is the prediction here.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Real Zaragoza v Real Madrid
Getafe v Levante
Both these sides were so close to relegation last season it wasn’t even funny with Getafe avoiding the drop-zone by just one point and Levante by three. Therefore, it’s odd that these two relegation candidates should meet each other on the opening game of the domestic season and in a season where every point gained will be cruical, neither side is going to pull any punches. It will be interesting to see how Getafe perform on Sunday after adding such names as Juan Rodriguez who was a big name at former club Deportivo and should add some extra stability to Getafe’s midfield. Getafe on paper are favourites for this one but we’ve gone for a 1-1 draw for Sunday’s clash at Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Getafe 1-1 Levante
Mallorca v Espanyol
Espanyol face a tough away day at Mallorca on Sunday especially after losing star striker Pablo Osvaldo who’s fine goal scoring streak was rewarded with a transfer to Roma in a deal worth €17.5 this week. Mallorca have a good, young robust team and should see off Espanyol this weekend with home advantage.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Mallorca 2-0 Espanyol
Barcelona v Villareal
Undoubtedly one of the picks of the weekend with La Liga champions Barcelona taking on Villareal who looked very convincing in their Champions League victory over Odense in mid-week. With the likes of Giuseppe Rossi on form this Monday, Villareal could cause Barcelona a few problems especially considering the Catalonians have a UEFA Super Cup match to contend with against Porto on Friday. There’s no doubt Barcelona will win this but we fancy Villareal to give them a real run for their money and have gone for a 2-1 home win.
La Liga Blog Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Vilareal
Betting tips for the weekend
Here’s a selection of betting tips we think is worth having a flutter on this weekend…
Correct Score Bet – Barcelona 2-1 Vilareal – 8/1 with Bet 365
First Goalscorer Bet – Llorente to score first (Bilbao v Vallecano) – 16/5 with Victor Chandler
Match Bet – Levante to beat Getafe – 4/1 with Victor Chandler