Curious scheduling this weekend even by La Liga’s wacky standards. Sevilla vs Atlético Madrid at the same time as the Valencia clash. And two late-night matches starting on one day and finishing on another.
The Primera’s plea to the 20 teams in action this weekend is to buck their ideas up and remember that they are there purely to entertain us, so please score some goals if possible. Depor are excused from this, for obvious reasons. Here’s what La Liga Loca is looking out for in matchday two.
Who will top the table for the infernal international break?
LLL has looked through its entrails - that will be quite the story for the Casualty staff in the morning - to predict which team will be perched atop the table during the much accursed international break. The blog thinks the leader will come out of the two matches played on Saturday night. Eibar, Atletico Madrid and Espanyol all have a chance, having won their opening clashes, but the suspicion is that this Primera posse won’t quite have the making of the opposition or, if they do, enough goals in the tank to finish on top.
This leaves Celta Vigo and Barcelona as the last possibilities. The Catalan club are at home to Malaga, a team that can be as obstinate as a mule with blisters when it is needed.
Of course, the Barcelona attack is all-powerful and potent, but there is a whiff of the notion that this might be one of those matches where Barcelona have to wait until the 78th minute to score an opener from Luis Suárez with Leo Messi popping up with an injury-time second.
This is why the blog is plumping for Celta Vigo, a fine swash-buckling team if ever there was one. Indeed, the Galicians will be facing another upstanding offensive side in the form of Rayo Vallecano, whose manager Paco Jemez spits with gusto on ever playing for a draw. It’s all or nothing for Rayo, who can suffer from the odd tonking along the way. This might be one of those nights.
Will Real Madrid keep a baying Bernabeu crowd happy against Betis?
There are so many questions surrounding Real Madrid, as always. Will Gareth Bale be allowed to literally block Cristiano Ronaldo’s path to goal? Will the young guns, Spanish pair Isco and Jese, have themselves and their manly beards plonked onto the bench and sacrificed for foreign types, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema? And speaking of the cold-blooded Frenchman, did the forward announce that he was staying with Real because he loved life in La Liga, didn’t fancy Arsenal or was too lazy to pack?
The crowd for the first home league game at the Santiago Bernabeu against the newly promoted Real Betis is going to be demanding goals. Lots of them. But these have not been forthcoming of late with Rafa Benítez in charge. Indeed, so critical has the Madrid media been of the dearth of strikes that Wednesday’s Marca published the counter story that at least the team has had a bunch of clean sheets under their Spanish manager, so some frowns should at least be turned upside down.
A squeezed one or two nil win won’t be enough for Rafa to have a comfy international fortnight. Instead, Madrid are going to have to go biblical against Betis, a team who have been known to be whipped around the Bernabeu pitch in the past.
Will Sevilla’s super signing make a return to La Liga?
Merciful Zeus, the Mighty Monchi, legendary Sporting Director of Sevilla, might have pulled off his greatest coup so far by landing Fernando Llorente from Italian champions Juventus for nothing. Zip. Nada. Nichts. Nowt. The much-fancied forward - in many, many ways - lay seductively with a stethoscope pressed against his sculptured torso to sign for Sevilla for the next three years and help cover the goals and gaps left by Carlos Bacca, who is now stewing in the Serie A car crash called Milan. Why Carlos, why?
The strapping Pamplonan might even be called into action on Sunday with Atletico Madrid in town, two clubs that have built up quite the animosity over the years. Both sides slept-walked through their season openers, but there is nothing like the prospect of being kicked around the Sanchez Pizjuan to get the juices flowing. Diego Simeone has yet to lose to Sevilla in five matches as Atletico boss, so Llorente may be called into action after what could turn out to be the best move of the transfer window in La Liga.
Will Valencia breathe easy after ending their Champions League chase?
And breathe. That will be the feeling in Mestalla after Valencia put a cherry on top of last season’s work by squeezing past Monaco thanks to a lovely chipped effort by Alvaro Negredo that kept the defeat down to just 2-1 in France. LLL would not like to imagine what would have happened had Los Che blown that one.
Nuno’s charges now face Deportivo La Coruna in arguably the easiest home clash of the season. With the visitors ever short of an attacking threat, despite the assistance of super-agent Jorge Mendes in the background; a coach close to the Galician side and also with a huge finger in the pie of Valencia.
Indeed, if Valencia have the same luck as they had in the Champions League draw, which saw the team partnered with Zenit, Genk and Lyon, then Deportivo could be in for quite the hiding against a potent poaching attack for the home team.
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