Lionel Messi scored the first five-goal haul in UEFA Champions League history as FC Barcelona powered to a 7-1 win against Bayer 04 Leverkusen. (Photo : Christopher Johnson)
This weekend starts the 2012-13 La Liga season which will ultimately be a two horse race between Barcelona who tries to win its fourth championship in five years and Real Madrid who looks to win its second best.
However, it is essential to remember that the rest of the squads will get a shot at a Champions League Berth and a few spots in the Europa League. And one cannot forget that they will also be fighting to steer clear of the last three spots which would banish them from the league next season.
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But the main drama is the battle between Real Madrid and Barca for the top spot. Here are the match ups of the weekend and predictions.
Saturday August 18, 2012
Celta Vigo Vs. Malaga, 1 PM ETD
Sevilla FC vs. Getafe , 3 PM ETD
Mayorca, vs. Espanyol, 5 PM ETD
The big match of the day is Sevilla FC vs. Getafe. Getafe is a team not many expect anything from while Sevilla will look to forget the dreadful ninth place finish last season and move themselves back into the top teams of La Liga. An older Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas should facilitate this. Look for Sevilla to beat Getafe in a close match.
Malaga over performed a year ago, but will likely not face the same luck as they have seen a cut in spending and have lost Santi Cazorla. Of course Celta Vigo is one of the promoted squads and should pose little to no threat for Malaga. This either ends in a draw or a Malaga victory.
Mayorca and Espanyol are the match few will pay attention to. They are both middle of the pack squads with little to no hope of a top four finish. Mayorca finished six points ahead of Espanyol with slightly better defense. This is a toss up with either squad having a good chance at winning or drawing.
Sunday August 19, 2012Athletic
Bilbao vs. Real Betis, 1 PM ETD
Real Madrid Vs. Valencia, 1 PM ETD
Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad,3 PM ETD
Levante vs. Atletico Madrid 5 PM ETD
This is the big day as all the major squads and stars will play. Athetlic Bilbao and Real Betis are two teams with high hopes for the season. Javi Martinez looks like he's leaving Bilbao but they still have Llorente (if he doesn't leave) and a few youngsters like Munain who can help this team grow. Real Betis finished 13th but has since added Arsenal's Joel Campbell. This should be an easy win for Bilbao.
The current champs open up with a matchup they probably wanted to avoid the first week. Valencia was the third place squad for the four straight seasons and looked poised to repeat that feat for a fifth. Real should win this, but a draw or Valencia win wouldn't be a surprise.
Barcelona got a lucky draw in a mediocre squad like Real Sociedad. There can be no doubt that Barca will win, but by how much?
Atletico Madrid and Levante finished fifth and sixth respectively. This will be close but Radamel Falcao has boasted about being able to score as many goals as Messi and Ronaldo, so he gets a chance to let his play do the talking. Atletico should win.
Monday August 20, 2012
Deportivo La Coruna vs. Osasuna 1 PM ETD
Rayo Vallecano vs. Granada 3 PM ETD
Real Zaragoza vs. Valladolid 5 PM ETD
It is pretty clear that when La Liga scheduled its matches it knew what teams to throw into Monday, when audience will likely be down. None of these teams are contenders for anything.
Osasuna may be the only team who has a chance at the Europa League and they get to face off newly promoted Deportivo La Coruna. Look for Osasuna to welcome them in style with a big win.
Rayo Vallecano is on many people's lists for demotion and they get Granada, another team who could tank out of the division. This could be a draw or a win for either side.
Real Zaragoza is another team who could face demotion and they take on newly promoted Real Valadolid. I will go with the excited Valladolid squad to win over a dreadful Zaragoza squad.