Football is back 86 days after last season’s Copa del Rey Final. Tito Vilanova’s FC Barcelona will make its debut this evening (21.00, C+) in the Liga and it will also be the team’s first official match of the season. The match is against Real Sociedad, a team that denied Barça the three points at the beginning of last season when both side drew two-all at Anoeta. It will be, therefore, a tricky start for Vilanova, whose project has generated quite a bit of excitement among the Barça faithful. Vilanova's challenge is clear: maintain the level of success of recent years.

The run-up to the season

The Azulgrana pre-season, just as Vilanova said on Saturday, invites optimism. The team played five friendlies this summer, won three of them, against Hamburg (1-2), Raja Casablanca (0-8) and Dinamo Bucharest, and drew twice, against PSG (2-2) and Manchester United (0-0). Now that the pre-season is over, it’s time for the first important matches of the year.

Alex Song

For the first match of the season, Vilanova will be without a couple of his players. Cuenca, Abidal, Muniesa and Thiago do not have the medical green light to play, while the team’s newest signing, Alex Song, will undergo his medical on Monday before he signs his contract. Therefore, the manager will have 21 footballers at his disposal, including the two Barça B players Tello and Sergi Roberto. The match against Real could also see Jordi Alba make his official debut for the Club.

Dangerous Real Sociedad

FC Barcelona’s first La Liga game of the year will be against one of last season’s most dangerous teams, Real Sociedad. The Basque side finished 12th last year, and was led by the young Carlos Vela and Antoine Griezmann. The two players stayed on with Real, and the club boast a couple of new faces, like José Ángel (on loan from Roma) and Chori Castro (from Mallorca). Just like last year, Phillippe Montanier will attempt to put a damper on FC Barcelona’s opening act in La Liga.

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