The 2018/19 La Liga season kicks off this weekend, with 10 first round matches spread from today to Monday, and set to feature some of the finest footballers in the world.
Today, Girona will play host to promoted side Real Valladolid, with the former looking up to Uruguay attacker, Christian Stuani, for inspiration, while Valladolid can call on up-and-coming Moroccan midfielder, Anuar Tuhami.
The other game today will see Real Betis at home to a Levante side, which can call on several African stars, including new signings, Moses Simon and Raphael Dwamena, as well as Emmanuel Boateng and Cheick Doukoure.
Tomorrow features Celta de Vigo at home to Espanyol, and Villarreal hosting Real Sociedad, before a late kick-off between champions Barcelona against Deportivo Alves.
Barca, who finished the 2017/18 season at the head of the Spanish top flight with a haul of 93 points (14 clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid), start the new campaign as the favourites to claim a 26th Liga title.
Coach Ernesto Valverde can call on much of the same team that won the championship last term, with Andres Iniesta and Paulinho the only notable departures, while they have added strength in depth with the signings of Malcolm, Clement Lenglet, Arturo Vidal and Arthur.
Yet the incomparable Lionel Messi remains their key man.
Sunday’s first game sees promoted side Huesca have their very first taste of La Liga action, as they visit Papakouli Diop’s Eibar, followed by Rayo Vallecano (who also earned promotion from the second tier at the end of last season, and feature the skills of Lass Boungoura and Gael Kakuta) hosting Sevilla.
Real Madrid will have their first La Liga match under the guidance of new manager, Julen Lopetegui, when they host Getafe in the late kick-off in Sunday.
The former Spanish national team coach will be looking to show that Los Blancos’ success will continue unabated despite the departure of both Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
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