Plenty To Look Forward To In La Liga Gameweek 2
Sunday sees FC Barcelona travel to San Mames to face Athletic Club Bilbao in one of the classics of the Spanish game between two of the three sides who have never been relegated from the top flight.
Last weekend saw Barca kick off their title defense in fine style with a 6-2 thrashing of Betis, while Athletic looked heavy legged in their 2-1 defeat away to Sporting Gijon.
Ter Stegen will replace Claudio Bravo in the Barca goal, but that will probably be the only change Barca coach Luis Enrique makes for the game as Neymar enjoys a well-earned rest following his success with Brazil in the Olympic Games.
Real Madrid play their first home game of the season on Saturday with visitors Celta, no doubt anxious to avoid conceding the 7 goals they received in the Bernabeu a year ago.
Cristiano Ronaldo is in the final stages of his recovery from a knee injury and will probably not be risked, while Karim Benzema is still sidelined with a back problem.
That should not be a problem for Zinedine Zidane’s side, who last week cruised to a 3-0 win away to Real Sociedad with Gareth Bale, Alvaro Morata and youngster Marcos Asensio in outstanding form and the Real Madrid fans will be expecting a repeat performance against a rival who surprisingly lost their first game of the season to newly promoted Leganes.
Leganes will very much be in the spotlight as well on Saturday as they play hosts to near neighbors Atletico Madrid in the first ever top-flight league clash between the two sides.
Atletico dropped two points at home to Alaves a week ago and with Barca and Madrid both winning and likely to drop few points throughout the season, coach Diego Simeone knows another slip up with already leave his side a mountain to climb.
Antoine Griezmann should be in top condition for the game and he and Kevin Gameiro will have the task of trying to break down a well-organized Leganes defense as the Butarque Stadium prepares for a historic moment for the club.
The round of matches kicks off on Friday night as Betis try and put their opening day defeat behind them at home to Deportivo la Coruna, whose fans will be worried over the possible sale of striker Lucas Perez to either Arsenal or Everton.
A new look Espanyol are also at home on Friday with coach Quique Sanchez Flores aiming for a better defensive display that in last week’s 6-4 defeat away to Sevilla, which may have provided incredible entertainment, but also showed his side needs to tighten their back line.
There is another derby over the weekend as Osasuna welcome Real Sociedad to the El Sadar Stadium, while Las Palmas will hope to carry on from their 4-2 win in Valencia when they entertain Granada. Valencia meanwhile need a win away to Eibar to avoid an early season crisis after a difficult summer in the transfer market.
Alaves celebrate their first top flight at home in over 10 years at home to Sporting Gijon, while Villarreal need a win at home to Sevilla to recover from their disappointing elimination from the Champions League by Monaco on Tuesday.
Villarreal coach Fran Escriba has the unfortunate record of not having seen the side he coaches win in 15 matches: a spell covering last season at Getafe and the start of this campaign after replacing Marcelino Garcia at El Madrigal.