By Timothy Dehinbo
The La liga officially kicked off with two Friday night games with both matches ending in a draw. It continues on Saturday.
GRANADA CF VS VILLAREAL CF
Surviving relegation on the penultimate day of the season, The Andalusians welcomes Marcelino’s Yellow Submarines in their first game of the season. Granada sold Isaac Success who was very instrumental to their survival last season.
Coming into the new season, Paco Jemez, former coach of Rayo Vallecano came in during the third week of July and will be looking to improve his side with their summer signings. Gaston Silva, Jose Angulo, Ezequiel Ponce and exciting youngster Jeremie Boga, was signed on loan from Chelsea while Mexican goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa has joined from Malaga after failing to upstage Carlos Kameni and has been deemed surplus to requirement by new coach of Malaga, Juande Ramos.
Villareal on their part, have signed Alexandre Pato from Corinthians who made his debut and scored on Wednesday’s 1-2 home defeat to AS Monaco. Denis Suarez has re-joined FC Barcelona after the Catalans activated his buy-back clause. Marcelino will be lloking for an instant response from his charges when they take on their opponents whom they defeated 3-1 on this ground last season. With the plethora of new signings from the Andalusians, it could take a while to get them going and Villareal might be too strong for them, although, it could be a very tight contest.
PREDICTION: GRANADA C.F 1-2 VILLAREAL
SEVILLA CF VS RCD ESPANYOL
The Europa- League champions under the tutelage of new coach Jorge Sampaoli, will be looking to start the new season in good fashion unlike the poor manner with which they started last season. The Andalusians failed to win a single away game in La-Liga all season which is suprising considering the calibre of players in the squad.
Sampaoli, famed for his attacking, high-intensity style of football will be seeking an immediate response after seeing his side crumble in three important games within the span of eight games. An extra-time defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, was followed by a 0-2 home defeat to FC Barcelona in the first leg of their Spanish Super Cup tie.
An improved performance in the second leg couldn’t prevent them from falling to the might of the Catalans as they fell 3-0. Luciano Vietto, Hirro Kiyotake have all joined to strengthen the attack while Ciro Immobile, utility man, Coke, and Ever Banega have all left. Despite keeping Watford up, and going all the way to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Qique Sanchez Florez was relieved of his job and would be looking to bring the same kind of intensive pressing and organisation that served him well at Watford.
With both side’s willingness to attack, expect goals in this game but I think Sevilla will win.
PREDICTION: SEVILLA CF 3-1 RCD ESPANYOL
FC BARCELONA VS REAL BETIS
The Catalans kicked off their new season in sublime fashion following a 5-0 aggregate success over Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup. Prior to that, the Spanish champions defeated E.P.L Champions Leicester City, and Scottish Champions, Celtic, in the International Champions Cup.
They were also given a reality check when Liverpool hammered them 4-0 at Wembley. They bounced back by beating Sampdoria 3-2 in the Joan Gamper Trophy before the Super Cup triumph. Daniel Alves has left the team to join Juventus, Thomas Vermaelen has joined A. S Roma on loan while Neymar is away on international duty. Andre Gomes, Lucas Digne and Samuel Umtiti have all joined from Valencia, PSG and Lyon respectively.
Dennis Suarez was re-signed from Villareal after his buy back clause was activated. Gustavo Poyet’s men have signed Felipe Gutierrez from Dutch side, FC Twente, Roman Zozulya joined on a free transfer from Ukranian side, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk while Aissa Mandi arrived from Reims to strengthen the defence.
Experienced goal-keeper Manu Herrera joined from Real Zaragoza as well. Their key men would be Dani Ceballos and Chelsea youngster Charly Musonda. The Catalans could run riot here, reminiscent of their 4-0 scoreline last season.
FC BARCELONA 4-0 REAL BETIS