Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said he has a feeling that his side will win what would be an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title.
The upcoming La Liga season commences this weekend amidst a Spanish heatwave, prompting some matches to be rescheduled to 10 p.m. local time to mitigate the heat’s effects.
There are two games on Friday — Almeria hosting Rayo Vallecano and Sevilla squaring off against Valencia –but one of them was rescheduled due to extreme heat.
Victor Moreno makes his coaching debut for Almeria, which recently sold striker El Bilal Toure. On the other hand, Francisco Rodriguez faces the challenge of filling Andoni Iraola’s shoes in the Rayo dugout, helming a squad seemingly less potent than last season’s, reports Xinhua.
Reigning Europa League champions, Sevilla, face off against a Valencia side that has witnessed pivotal departures without notable replacements. This transition has prompted coach Ruben Baraja to lean on Valencia’s youth, evident from the squad’s average age of 22.8 years.
Saturday’s trio of matches shouldn’t be plagued by the heat, as two take place in the Basque region and the third in the Canary Islands. Here, Las Palmas, back in the premier division, play Mallorca. The encounter between these ‘island teams’ might set the tone for the new entrants.
Athletic Club Bilbao welcome Real Madrid, with new additions Jude Bellingham and Fran Garcia in the starting lineup and Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo helming the attack in the post-Benzema era. Despite winning half of their pre-season matches, Real Madrid’s defense has appeared vulnerable. In contrast, injuries and late player returns have hampered Athletic’s preparations, leaving players like Yeray Alvarez, Dani Garcia, and Yuri sidelined.
While Madrid’s Dani Carvajal is set to play despite his controversial tackle on Yuri last season, he might face a hostile reception from San Mames Stadium’s packed crowd.
Real Sociedad’s new signing, Andre Silva, misses their opening game against Girona, but Umar Sadiq might make an appearance after recovering from a major knee injury. San Sebastian’s side has a productive off-season, whereas Girona let go of pivotal players like Rodrigo Riquelme and Oriol Romeu.
Rafa Benitez’s era at Celta Vigo commences on Sunday as they play Osasuna. Benitez’s arrival has instilled hope in a Celta side that’s been underwhelming in recent times, with Gabri Veiga as their standout player. Osasuna, on the other hand, has retained much of the squad that secured a seventh-place La Liga finish and reached the Copa del Rey final last season.
The sweltering heat at 7:30 p.m. local time could influence Villarreal’s clash with Betis. Both teams have undergone significant changes post their commendable finishes last season. After parting ways with players like Nicolas Jackson, Samuel Chukwueze, and Geo Lo Celso, Villarreal hopes newcomer Alexander Sorloth can spark a turnaround following a lacklustre pre-season.
Barcelona embark on their title defense with a challenging fixture at Getafe. Given Getafe’s likely arid pitch conditions, Barca might find it challenging to impose their playing style. The significant question for Barca remains their ability to enlist players like Ilkay Gundogan, Oriol Romeu, and Alexander Blade due to financial constraints. If unsuccessful, coach Xavi Hernandez might have to lean on promising young talents like Lamine Yamel and Fermin Lopez.
The game week concludes on Monday as Atletico Madrid host newly promoted Granada and Alaves embark on their elite league journey against Cadiz.