Real Madrid on the road, Xavi in the stands

Real Madrid
Real Madrid

The second round of matches in the new La Liga season gets underway with two matches on Friday, with Mallorca at home to Villarreal, while newly-promoted Las Palmas visits Valencia Mestalla Stadium.

Villarreal’s poor pre-season form carried on into their opening game as they lost 2-1 to Real Betis. Quique Setien’s side is clearly missing players such as Samuel Chukwueze and Nicolas Jackson, whose sale has robbed them of pace and goals in attack.

Valencia has the youngest squad in La Liga after another summer without new signings, and coach Ruben Baraja has to make do with youngsters.

Valencia kicked off with a win against Sevilla last weekend, and although the Mestalla fans are likely to vent their anger at club owner Peter Lim once again, three more points would give Baraja’s men a good cushion ahead of what could be a difficult campaign.

Kepa Arrizabalaga could make his debut in goal for Real Madrid as they visit Almeria, while coach Carlo Ancelotti will bring Antonio Rudiger into defense for the injured Eder Militao. Madrid plays their second consecutive away game as work continues on the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Real Sociedad entertains Celta, who disappointed on their home debut under Rafael Benitez, losing 2-0 at home to Osasuna and leading the coach to insist on new signings.

Osasuna takes on Athletic Bilbao after their 2-0 defeat at home to Real Madrid on the opening day showed they are missing injured central defender Yeray Alvarez and left-back Yuri.

Osasuna played Athletic four times last season in the league and Copa del Rey, winning their two home matches while drawing twice in Bilbao, and they will fancy adding the three points they brought back from Vigo a week ago.

All eyes will be on Getafe when they visit Girona on Sunday after their 115-minute marathon against FC Barcelona last weekend, which left Barca coach Xavi Hernandez fuming at the tactics used by Jose Bordalas’ team.

Jaime Mata was sent off against Barca and missed the trip, while Barcelona will be without Raphinha, who was shown a red card against Getafe and will miss Barca’s game at home to Cadiz.

Xavi was also sent off and will have to watch from the stands, and the coach has to decide who replaces Raphinha after the press reported that striker Ansu Fati has asked to leave the club in the current transfer window.

Sunday’s last match is in the heat of Seville, where Real Betis entertains Atletico Madrid in a match between the two sides who are candidates for a top-four finish this season.

Betis is still without Nabil Fekir and William Carvalho, while Atletico has a worrying injury list, including midfielder Koke, forward Angel Correa, and defenders Jose Gimenez and Nahuel Molina.

The two matches played on Monday see Alaves look for their first point and goal of the season at home to Sevilla who was edged by Manchester City on penalties in the UEFA Super Cup.

Sevilla coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said after that game that he expects goalkeeper Bono to leave the club, and the Moroccan may not play in Vitoria.

Monday’s second game sees Granada celebrate their return to the elite at home to Rayo Vallecano, who kicked off the new campaign with a 2-0 win in Almeria.

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