Matchday two in Spain’s La Liga is still without teams such as Sevilla, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid due to their European commitments in August, but Real Madrid kick off their campaign with a visit to face Real Sociedad. Here are some things to look out for in Spain this weekend.
1. Real’s return
League champions Real Madrid begin their season with a difficult visit to Real Sociedad, where they won in controversial circumstances last season. Madrid have no new signings in their squad except for Martin Odegaard who returned to the club after his successful season on loan with Sunday’s rivals. Obviously Odegaard will be the focus of attention, while David Silva may get some time for Real Sociedad after his brush with COVID-19, but perhaps the big point of interest will be to see how Madrid respond after a disjointed summer and only one preparation game.
With Sociedad kicking off their season a week earlier, the Basque side may feel they have a vital physical edge over Zidane’s men.
2. The Pellegrini effect at Betis
A 95th minute goal away to Alaves in the opening round saw Betis equal last season’s number of away wins in Manuel Pellegrino’s first game in charge at the club. The coach nicknamed ‘the Engineer’ due to his methodical way of working, certainly looks to have tightened things up at the back for his team and Betis have enough quality in attack to do much better than last season’s 15th place finish.
Pellegrini needs to see that improvement carry over into Sunday’s match at home to a solid Valladolid, although neither team were impressed when La Liga on Wednesday night decided to bring the kick off forward from Monday to Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Valladolid were hit with the news that keeper Jordi Masip, who gifted the goal that saw them draw 1-1 to Real Sociedad a week ago, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
3. Can Valencia build on opening day win?
There were dark clouds around Valencia this summer as key players left the club, but the spirit they showed on the opening day to twice come back from behind and eventually win 4-2 against Levante has raised optimism. Gabriel Paulista, Maxi Gomez and Manu Vallejo gave new coach Javi Gracia something to smile about. 19-year-old Kang Lee also impressed for Valencia and will start in their visit to Celta Vigo.
Celta have sealed the return of former Valencia defender Jeison Murillo on loan, fighting off interest from Valencia to close the deal and they too need to show they can improve after a dull 0-0 draw in Eibar on the opening day of the campaign.
4. New boys go head-to-head
Newly promoted Huesca face Cadiz on Sunday afternoon in a match that just over two months ago would have taken place in the second division.
The summer recruitment of both teams has been limited and that showed as Cadiz looked lightweight in attack and naive at the back as they lost their opening game 2-0 to Osasuna. Another defeat would imply that it could be a long season for Cadiz, while Huesca will view the game as a chance to claim their first win of the campaign.