Savage gives us his thoughts on the pick of the matches in Spain’s Primera División as Barcelona start their title defence.
Athletic v Real Madrid
Sat 12 Aug 8:30 pm
Real Madrid showed their intent to re-claim the crown they believe is rightfully theirs with the signing of Jude Bellingham. The former Dortmund striker came with a hefty price tag but when you are looking to replace the current Ballon D’Or winner it will never be cheap. Given Benzema’s unexpected departure to the Middle East, Bellingham will be afforded no settling in time by the Madrid faithful. He will need to start scoring goals and plenty of them. Real suffered a serious injury blow when it was announced that Courtois had ruptured his ACL. Andriy Lunin is likely to see substantially more game time than he might have expected a week ago. Bilbao have won just 1 of the last 6 (W1 L5) at home against their visitors and they may struggle in their league opener.
Getafe v Barcelona
Sun 13 Aug 8:30 pm
Barcelona were afforded the opportunity to coast to the title last year as all challengers fell by the wayside with weeks remaining. However, that is not to undersell the remarkable manner in which Xavi managed to wring wins out of his team in the most un-Barcelona fashion. Numerous 1-0 victories meant the points continued to be racked up and never gave the other sides a chance. Despite their achievements, the balance sheet at Camp Nou continues to be threadbare so their squad remains largely unchanged. The home side narrowly managed to escape the drop last season and will be hoping for a more comfortable campaign this time around. The visitors have not scored in their last three visits (D2 L1) to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez so they will need to rectify that if they are to get their season off to the best possible start.
Atlético Madrid v Granada CF
Mon 14 Aug 8:30 pm
Altético were probably unfortunate not to overtake their city rivals in the standings last season as they had a strong second half of the campaign. In typical Simeone fashion the only new signings on the books are all defenders with the introduction of Galan, Azpilicueta and Soyuncu. The Colchoneros scored the same number of goals (70) as the Champions last season but finished 11 points worse off than them so perhaps the Argentine is correct with his purchases. The visitors make a return to the top flight after a one-year absence. They finished 3 points clear at the top of the Segunda to claim their automatic promotion. However, the Andalusian side have not won in their last 6 (D1 L5) in Madrid and have shipped 19 goals in the process. Starts to a campaign do not come much tougher.
Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid – Real Madrid to Win @ 11/10
Getafe v Barcelona – Barcelona and Under 2.5 @ 11/5
Atlético Madrid v Granada – Atlético Madrid and Under 2.5 @ 23/10
The above in a treble @ 22/1