The Long wait is over. La Liga is back with a bang and from now till the end of the season, BusybuddiesNG pundit, Olawale Agbede, will be previewing and predicting all the matches on each match day in the Spanish first division.
With the obvious dominance of Real Madrid on all fronts, it is difficult to forget easily the scenes as the capital club won the La Liga Santander last season haven finally gone up a notch above struggling rivals, FC Barcelona in terms of performance and quite unarguably, personnel.
The 2017/2018 La Liga Santander commences on Friday with Alaves travelling to the outskirts of Madrid to face Leganes while on Saturday, Atletico Madrid travels to Catalonia to face newly promoted La Liga first-timers, Girona.
The Champions begin their title defence at the Riazor against Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday just after FC Barcelona host Real Betis at the Camp Nou in a game that marks Ernesto Valverde’s first league match as Barcelona manager.
I see wins for last season’s top three and plenty goals at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Here are my full predictions.
CD Leganes vs Deportivo Alaves
Estadio Municipal de Butarque
This two sides met for the first time in the top division last season and they couldn’t be separated as both games ended in draws although, Leganes got the upper hand when they met in preseason this summer in a game that had a lot of goals. Still, can’t separate them and I see a couple of goals here so I’ll be sticking my neck out for a score draw.
Valencia CF vs UD Las Palmas
Camp de Mestalla
I think there will be goals at the Mestalla. Both sides have had fantastic pre season preparations but even though Valencia have struggled to get points against Las Palmas in the league for a couple of years, I see then just nicking this at home. With Marcelino in charge, they should be looking forward to more consistent performances.
RC Celta Vigo vs Real Sociedad
Estadio Municipal de Balaidos
Former Barcelona assistant manager, Juan Carlos Unzue, has put in a lot of work at Celta in just over two months and he will be looking forward to a good debut season as manager. Eusebio did a great job finishing 6th with Real Sociedad last season but I see too many goals in this Celta team and they should have enough to overcome this Sociedad team at the Balaidos.
Girona FC vs Atletico de Madrid
The new boys will be absolutely thrilled to be in the top flight. They have brought in a lot of talented youngsters from Man City who will have to blend in with the experience of the likes of Cristian Stuani, Carles Planas, Marc Muniesa and Gorka Iraizoz. Atletico have, albeit unexpectedly, Antoine Griezman to call upon at the start of the new campaign and there’s still much of the quality all around the squad. They defend properly and I firmly expect that Simeone’s men should leave Catalonia with three points.
Sevilla FC vs RCD Espanyol
Ramon Sanchez Pijuian
I expect Sevilla to start as strong as they did last year although they have lost a lot of the major players from last season and brought in more experience. Quique Sanchez Flores has done wonders with the lean budget at Espanyol and they have had a good preseason. We saw an epic 10-goal thriller between these two sides in the Liga exactly a year ago and I will be expecting goals here again. Sevilla have quality with Nolito and Ben Yedder in attack and I expect them to take this.
Athletic Bilbao vs Getafe CF
Estadio San Mames
Athletic begin the new season with a new manager in the dugout as they have promoted long time B team manager, Jose Angel Ziganda, to fill in the shoes of the departed Ernesto Valverde. Getafe, back in the top flight straight away will be aiming to start on a good note but Bilbao are too strong at home against the lower teams and I can’t see beyond a win for the Basque Club.
FC Barcelona vs Real Betis
I watched Ernesto Valverde have the worst start of a Barcelona manager in the last 37 years just this week and it’s easy to see the amount of work there is for the former Bilbao man. There have been three signings including Paulinho who might be debuting but there’s no Iniesta and no Luis Suarez for this. Real Betis struggled to stay up last season and should surely fancy their chances against a shaken Barcelona side. There’s no Neymar anymore but I think Messi’s quality will be just enough to see off Real Betis and get the much-needed win that will surely kick start the season for La Blagruana.
Deportivo La Coruna vs Real Madrid
Zidane’s team have started the season in the best possible fashion by winning the two super cups in a dominant manner. 69 games they have scored consecutively and I expect that to continue at the Riazor. Asensio and Isco make it look like no Ronaldo no problem, but Deportivo will be looking to the likes of Zakaria Bakkali to push them forward. Madrid should make light work of Depor.
Levante CF vs Villarreal
Ciutat de Valencia
Villarreal had the win when these two teams met over the summer in preseason but Villarreal had an average preseason. Levante at home last season were difficult to beat for the mid-table teams and I see Villarreal hitting a block here although they will be hoping to start racking up early points away from home. They will need Cedric Bakambu firing on all cylinders although, I see a draw all over this.
Malaga vs Eibar
Both teams come into the season having had poor games over the summer. Malaga have replaced Sandro Ramirez with Borja Baston and will need the Swansea man to start getting goals quickly if they are to ensure safety and try to maybe push on for Europe. Eibar play good football at home but they struggled to get points away from home last season and I think that might just Continue this season