Well, that was certainly a feisty affair, wasn’t it? Barcelona’s 0-0 draw away at Getafe on the opening day of the new La Liga season was a bad-tempered affair. Three red cards were shown throughout the course of the action, with Barca’s Raphinha, Getafe’s Jaime Mata, and Cules manager Xavi all being dismissed.
The stop-start ill-disciplined nature of the match certainly didn’t help the Catalonians’ style of play. They still dominated when it comes to possession, racking up a whopping 75% over the course of 90 minutes. However, that dominance didn’t translate into clear-cut chances, with the Blaugrana only managing a paltry four shots on target throughout the course of the action.
The opening game of the new campaign won’t have done much for Barcelona’s chances of wrapping back-to-back La Liga crowns for the first time in eight years. After the wild summer transfer window 12 months ago, the Catalonians have enjoyed a much more modest sill season this time around. They have brought in former Manchester City playmaker Ilkay Gündogan and Athletic Bilbao stalwart Iñigo Martínez on free transfers, with former midfield anchorman Oriol Romeu also returning home for a nominal fee.
Over in the capital, Real Madrid forked out an eye-watering €103m on English sensation Jude Bellingham alone. As such, the best sports betting sites in Canada have made Los Blancos the -125 favourites to rip the trophy away from Catalonia in nine month’s time. But what is the lay of the land in the Spanish top flight after just one match day?
Barcelona Must Improve
Look, we’re under no illusions that the new campaign has barely gotten underway. And when you consider the fact that Xavi managed to mastermind a title-winning campaign by a whopping ten points last season after a summer of turmoil, it’s safe to say that the current Barca boss knows what he’s doing. However, the ill-tempered display against Getafe was far from impressive.
We know that this Barcelona team is stacked with quality. Last term, the defence of Ronald Araújo and Jules Koundé conceded just 20 goals all season. The playmaking ability of Pedri and Gavi, with Gündogan now also supporting, is undeniable. And there is one thing that striker Robert Lewandowski has always guaranteed… goals.
But there can be no denying that the club has failed to bring in a number of transfer targets throughout the summer. It was thought that Lionel Messi would be brought home upon the expiry of his Paris Saint-Germain contract however, he instead opted to head to America with David Beckham’s Inter Miami. There were also rumours of a return for Neymar however, he looks to be off to Saudi Arabia.
Barca do remain short in a number of areas. They are thought to be looking at Rennes’ talented Belgium winger Jérémy Doku and Atletico Madrid attacker João Félix to fill those gaps. Should they bring in one or both of them, then, and only then, will Cules the world over be confident of successfully defending their La Liga crown.
Brilliant Bellingham Shines on Real Madrid Debut
English talent has been the talk of the current transfer window. Bayern Munich’s pursuit of Three Lions captain Harry Kane eventually was successful with the Bavarians paying over €100m to secure his services from Tottenham Hotspur. Saudi club Al-Ettifaq also managed to shockingly seal a deal for Liverpool’s Premier League and Champions League-winning captain Jordan Henderson.
However, the deal of the summer is undoubtedly Real Madrid’s capture of Jude Bellingham. Los Blancos paid a nine-figure fee to Borussia Dortmund and beat off the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City to secure his signature, and it has to be said that he looks to be a tremendous acquisition. The former Birmingham City youngster was given Zinedine Zidane’s famous number five shirt, and if his debut is anything to go by, he will certainly live up to the expectations.
Bellingham was in blistering form in Real’s 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in San Mamés. He put in a man-of-the-match winning display and even managed to bag his first goal in that famous royal white shirt en route to a comfortable victory. His link-up play with winger Vinícius Júnior is already looking menacing and Barcelona will have to be at their very best throughout the course of the season should those two continue performing at such a high level.
Can Atletico Force a Three-Way Title Fight?
Last season was a strange one on the other side of Madrid. Atletico struggled in the early weeks of the campaign and long-time manager Diego Simeone even announced that he would be leaving the club. El Cholo however managed to resurect Los Rojiblancos’ fortunes, eventually finishing one point adrift of cross-city rivals Real, and in turn, he has decided to remain in charge.
Towards the end of last season, Atleti were the form team in the Spanish top flight. In the summer transfer window, they have made Antoine Griezmann’s two-year loan deal permanent. They have also made the smart free transfer signings of experienced Premier League defenders César Azpilicueta and Caglar Söyüncü and they are expected to fit in perfectly with the playing style at the Wanda Metropolitano.
- Sergino Dest set to leave Barcelona on loan to join PSV this summer
- Barcelona and Manchester City reach an agreement over the signing of Joao Cancelo