The start of the La Liga season was met with the strange news that La Liga had agreed to play one game per season in the United States. The deal is for 15 years and the first match is expected to be Barcelona against either Girona or Getafe. The news casts a strange air over the Spanish season. Many fans are not happy. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the course of the season.
La Liga Week 1 Roundup: Messi, Andre Silva, Madrid cruise
But what the start of La Liga is all about is the football. It got going on Friday night with a forgetful Girona v Valladolid 0-0 draw. But that game was followed by a very surprising 3-0 victory for Levante over Real Betis. Saturday started with Celta Vigo and Espanyol drawing 1-1 and Real Sociedad going to Villarreal and winning 2-1. The highlight of that game, though, was Santi Cazorla returning after almost three years out with ankle problems. Hopefully, he can stay healthy all season.
The Saturday nightcap was Alaves making their yearly trip to the Camp Nou to take on Barcelona. Alaves were the last team to win at the Camp Nou in the league, in August 2016, but they would have no such fortune this time. After a dull first half, Philippe Coutinho was introduced at half-time and the game got going.
It took Barca another twenty minutes but they finally got their breakthrough when Lionel Messi stuffed a free kick under the wall. He would add a second goal, sandwiching a Coutinho goal to give Barcelona a comfortable 3-0 victory.
Sunday saw newly promoted Huesca beat Eibar 2-1 and Sevilla dispatch Rayo Vallecano 4-1. But the main course on Sunday was Real Madrid against Getafe. Madrid came into their first game league game without Cristiano Ronaldo, so it was important to start strong. They did so through a Dani Carvajal header, taking a 1-0 lead into half-time. The second half was seen out by a Gareth Bale strike that the keeper got a hand to but failed to keep out. From there, Real cruised to a 2-0 victory.
Star of the Weekend
If you were told that Sevilla scored four goals, including a hat-trick by their striker, your response would be Luis Muriel, with sceptical sarcasm. But no, not Luis Muriel, it was on loan striker Andre Silva. The Portuguese international had a rough time at Milan last season but if this performance is anything to go on, we could expect big things from him this season. He could be a 15-20 goal player in Pablo Machin’s system and showed that today.
Surprise of the Weekend
Last season’s 17th place finisher, Levante, went to Real Betis. They absolutely earned a 3-0 win over the green and whites. Two goals from Luis Morales and another from Roger Marti buried last season’s sixth-place finishers, throwing some real doubt into their season. Real Betis will need to balance the Spanish league with Europa league and losses to teams like Levante is not a good sign for that.
Still to Come
For some reason, La Liga decided to schedule the best game of the weekend on Monday night when Atletico Madrid travel to the Mestalla to take on Valencia. The other two teams in last season’s top four, Atletico have a squad to keep up with the other top teams in Spain. Valencia are hoping to continue to improve after a return to glory under Marcelino last season. After that, Athletic Bilbao take on Leganes, rounding out Week One.
A bit of a tame weekend next week but all the big teams are in action on the actual weekend. Atletico play host to Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona travel to Valladolid, Valencia take on Espanyol and Real Madrid travel to Girona. Should be another solid week of La Liga action, despite the lack of big matchups.