La Liga kicks off this weekend with games over three days. Newly promoted Celta open the action on Saturday against Malaga and one of the other teams to come up, Valladolid, close it at Zaragoza at 23,00 on Monday
This is one of the earliest ever starts to a league campaign in Spain and with the country in the midst of a heat wave this weekend, the new late kick off times will offer some relief from temperatures in the high 30s.
Paco Herrera wants no fear
Ahead of his team’s opener at home to Malaga on their return to La Liga, Celta boss Paco Herrera insists: “this team shouldn’t fear anybody . We have to feel able to go toe to toe with almost any team in the league. I want my side to be ambitious and go out to win every week”. It’s a testing start for Pellegrini’s team, who face a tough Champions League qualifier in midweek and after a difficult summer, he admitted: “the squad might not be the same, but our ambition is”, after revealing he’d called up the 16-year old Fabrice for the game.
Michel -“it’s a two horse race”
Seville boss Michel faces one of his ex-teams Getafe and let his frustration ahead of the new campaign show by claiming: “there are only two teams who can win this league – the rest of us just have to work hard and out up with it”. Saturday’s games close at eleven o’clock at night with Mallorca at home to Espanyol, who will be boosted by Friday’s signing of ex-Barça and Atletico Madrid winger Simao.
Valencia out to upset Madrid
Sunday’s big game sees Valencia visit the Bernabeu just four months after they held the free-scoring La Liga winners to a goalless draw on the same ground and this time they return with a new manager –Mauricio Pellegino- and the eye catching Andres Mexican Guardado- aiming to go one better. Valencia defender Ricardo Costa insists: “we are going there to win”. Athletic Bilbao start their new season with Spanish internationals Fernando Llorente and Javier Martinez both left out of the squad against Betis after a summer of speculation over their continuing at the club and with Barça playing at nine, Sunday’s action closes with another eleven o’clock kick off when Levante entertain Atletico Madrid. With the prospect of the Europa league ahead of them, Levante midfielder Barkero insists: “we have to get off to a good start – that’s what we did last season and it held us in good stead. I know this looks like an exciting season for the fans, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and avoid any distractions”.
Home start for Deportivo
Newly promoted Deportivo and Valladolid make their returns to the top flight on Monday, with the Galicians at home to Osasuna and Valladolid travelling to Zaragoza. Two of the teams who narrowly avoided the drop last year – Rayo and Granada meet at Vallecas in Monday’s other game.