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La Liga is here at last! After a busy summer on the transfer market, and six preseason friendlies, the first competitive game of the 2022/23 campaign offers an excellent chance to measure how much things have changed for the better at FC Barcelona.
The visitors to Spotify Camp Nou are Rayo Vallecano, a side that Barça have traditionally dominated, but last season the Catalans were shocked both at home and away. A host of changes have been made to the blaugrana squad to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again. There are a lot reasons to feel very excited about the 9.00pm CEST kick-off on Saturday.
How to watch
As usual, we have a special guide to help you work out what time the game is kicking off where you are. Many of the broadcasters are the same as they were last season, but in some countries and regions there have been changes.
If you can’t see the game for whatever reason, or if you’d like to complement your viewing with a second screen, our Match Center has everything you need. There you will find:
a) Live coverage of all the build-up, and in-game match analysis from the studio
b) Minute by minute text coverage.
c) Live commentary on Radio Barça
d) All the stats in real time
And don’t forget you can also enjoy extensive coverage in different languages on all of our official social networks.
No fewer than four players are in line to make their Liga debuts on Saturday, namely Andreas Christensen, Franck Kessié, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski.
Following the Friday training session, it was announced that Ferran Torres is back to full fitness and Xavi has included the striker in the squad of 22 players that he announced on Saturday morning.
One player who is not featuring is Nico González after it was announced on Saturday that despite extending his contract with the club, he will be spending this season on loan to Valencia.
Sergiño Dest, Martin Braithwaite, Samuel Umtiti and Jules Kounde all miss out, as do Alex Collado, Ez Abde and Pablo Torre, three Barça Atlètic players that have been training with the first team recently.
Rayo are entering the season with high hopes too. Doing the double of Barça was the obvious highlight of their 2021/22 campaign, but a team with such established Liga stars as Diego López, Mario Suàrez and Radamel Falcao will be hoping that that was just a taster for even bigger things this time round. The side also includes full-back Ivan Balliu, part of Barça's UEFA Youth League winning side in 2010/11, and who went on to impress as a member of Barça B.
Speaking to the press on Friday, Xavi reassured fans that “we are working on registering all the players. We are highly optimistic here at the club." Get the full story of what the coach had to say ahead of the game here, where he insisted that although things looked great throughout the preseason, "tomorrow is the moment of truth."
Aiming for another great start
Whenever they have played at home on the opening day of a Liga season, Barça have not dropped a single point since 2002, when Atlético Madrid draw 2-2 at Camp Nou. For the last two decades, it’s been wins all the way, and scoring an average of more than four goals a game in the process:
Opening day results
(Last 20 years with Barça playing at home)
2002 Atlético Madrid (2-2)
2009 Sporting Gijón (3-0)
2011 Villarreal (5-0)
2012 Real Sociedad (5-1)
2013 Levante (7-0)
2014 Elche (3-0)
2016 Betis (6-2)
2017 Betis (2-0)
2018 Alavés (3-0)
2020 Villarreal (4-0)
2021 Real Sociedad (4-2)
Barça are looking to get off to a winning start for the third season in row. In 2019/20, they started at San Mamés, where a late Artiz Aduriz goal earned a win for the Basques.
Barça’s opening goalscorers in recent seasons have been Gerard Piqué (2021), Ansu Fati (2020), Antoine Griezmann (2019) and Leo Messi (2018). Who will it be this time?
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