Spanish League Preview Week 2
Four weeks after it was supposed to start, La Liga reaches its second round of game this weekend with big games at Valencia and Villarreal, as well as home debuts for Real Madrid, Betis and Espanyol amongst others.
There was plenty to talk about after the first weekend of games a fortnight ago, but the
international break last week means that for many observers, including Pep Guardiola himself, La
Liga really begins this weekend.
Falcao set to start
Valencia get their second home game on the run when they entertain Atletico Madrid on
Saturday night, following their opening day win against Racing. Forty-million-Euro summer signing
Falcao looks set to start for the visitors, alongside fellow new boy Adrian who need to get any
challenge they are to make back on track after a disappointing goalless draw against Osasuna in
their first game. For Valencia, Roberto Soldado, who bagged a hat trick against Racing, will be the
man threat for Valencia, whose boss Unai Emery admitted this week: “Barça and Real Madrid are
the two best teams in the world and it’s frustrating for us that we cannot match them.
Villarreal need to bounce back
Villarreal and Seville are two other teams who will be aiming to at the very least chase the
big two and they meet at El Madrigal in the weekend’s opener( 18.00 –the same time as
Barça’s game in Anoeta). Seville’s boss Marcelino insists: “Villarreal’s
defeat against Barça doesn’t change anything – they are still a very good team”.
Alvaro Negredo got a brace in week one and repeated that for Spain in midweek and he’ll no
doubt be looking for more against Villarreal –particularly since their Colombian defender
Cristian Zapata is still stranded in the USA after visa problems.
Madrid debut at Bernabeu
Real Madrid also have their first league game at the Bernabeu on Saturday evening, when they
take on near neighbours Getafe, who come into the game with seven players out injured or
unavailable, whilst Mourinho will again be without Sami Khedira. The other Madrid team in La Liga,
Rayo Vallecano, will be looking to build on the point they took from San Mames when they entertain
Zaragoza on Sunday, whilst Bilbao visit Espanyol who have the 35-year old veteran Walter Pandiani
back at the club to make up for the losses of Osvaldo and Luis Garcia.
High noon in Seville
The head of Betis’ medical services expressed his concerns about the heat ahead of
Sunday’s noon kick off against Mallorca – but is mainly worried about the supporters
rather than the players: “with 40º temperatures and sat in a cement stadium, it can be very
dangerous”. Team manager Pepe Mel was also unhappy with the kick off time: “they put
these games on at 12.00 so that viewers in Asia can watch Barça or Real Madrid –but
it’s teams like us who play at this time”.
Second Andalusia derby for Malaga and Granada
Granada and Malaga both play their second Andalucía derby of the season on Monday night when
they meet at La Rosaleda on Monday night. The hosts will again be without Julio Baptista as they
attempt to get their first points of a season, with their collection of big signings trying to gel
more successfully than in their opener against Seville.