Four things to look out for as La Liga kicks off in Spain

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-17 17:34:38|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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MADRID, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish La Liga Santander kicks off its first round of matches this weekend with FC Barcelona aiming to retain their title and Atletico and Real Madrid their main challengers. Here are some things to look out for this weekend.

1. Same old Barca?

Andres Iniesta has gone, Leo Messi had a disappointing World Cup and Luis Suarez tends to start the season slowly, but will FC Barcelona be able to start the season with a win at home to Deportivo Alaves?

The early signs are encouraging for coach Ernesto Valverde: Barca looked relatively fluid as they beat Sevilla in the Spanish Supercup on Sunday and they then brushed past Boca Juniors on Wednesday night with Messi netting a typically neat goal.

Phillipe Coutinho promises to be important and Valverde will look to Ousmane Dembele to maintain the form he showed last weekend and if that is the case, Barca should start with 3 points.

2 Can Real Madrid bounce back?

No Real Madrid coach had seen their side concede four goals in their first competitive match in charge since the 1940's before Julen Lopetegui watched Atletico Madrid defeat his team 4-2 in the European Supercup on Wednesday night.

Real Madrid entertain an always tough-to-beat Getafe on Sunday and need to bounce back from Wednesday's defeat with a convincing win, otherwise questions will start to be asked about the new man in the dugout.

It was impossible for fans and reporters not to remember Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer to Juventus after Wednesday. Lopetegui needs to see Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio score goals to show there is life at the club after Cristiano.

3. Plenty of debuts

As always a new season sees plenty of clubs with new coaches at the helm and as well as Lopetegui at Real Madrid, Eduardo Berizzo makes his debut with Athletic Club Bilbao, Rubi at Espanyol, Antonio Mohamed at Celta Vigo, Eusebio Sacristan at Girona, Pablo Machin at Sevilla, Asier Garitano at Real Sociedad and Mauricio Pellegrino at Leganes. All of them have the task of improving on last year's performances at their clubs while Leo Franco at Huesca has to build on Rubi's work in the club's first ever season in the elite.

Some will succeed and some probably won't, but all of them will be a lot happier if they can kick off the campaign with a win.

4. Two Liga Santander returnees and one debutant in the top flight

Huesca won their first ever promotion to the top-flight last season only to see coach Rubi accept the chance to join Espanyol, with former goalkeeper Leo Franco named as his replacement. Huesca play their first ever La Liga Santander match away to Eibar, who were in a similar situation themselves four year ago, but are now preparing for their fifth campaign in the elite to show that with hard work it can be done.

Meanwhile Rayo Vallecano return to the top-flight after two seasons in the second division, with a home game against Sevilla and Valladolid are back after suffering relegation in 2014. Both teams are now looking to end their reputations as 'yo-yo' clubs.