Another eye-catching match could be Valencia v Villareal on Sunday. Valencia are favourites to be in the top four and have bolstered their roster with some solid signings. They have picked up centre-back Ivan Helguera from Real Madrid who gives them an experienced replacement for Roberto Ayala who moved to Real Zaragoza. Valencia also signed former Racing Santander striker Nikola Zigic on a deal worth around 15 million euros The 26-year-old Serbian joined Racing from Red Star Belgrade last August and was one of the revelations of the season, top scoring for the Catabrian club with 11 goals. The imposing Zigic is likely to be the preferred strike-partner for David Villa, which puts Fernando Morientes out of the picture at the moment.
Villarreal signed Deportivo Coruna’s Spain defender Joan Capdevila when their plans of signing Ayala fell flat. The 34-year-old agreed in February to join Villarreal when his contract with Valencia expired in June. Zaragoza apparently paid the buy-out clause in Ayala’s contract and swiftly signed him to a three-year deal. Villareal also lost left-back Jose Enrique to Newcastle United over the summer so it will be a different look to the club to start this campaign. Their strong finish to the season allowed them to qualify for this season’s UEFA Cup.
Getafe have a few new faces in the squad but the most notable change is the manager. Bernd Schuster took up the challenge of defending the title with Real Madrid so Getafe have hired Danish manager Michael Laudrup. The Sevilla-Getafe fixture is a repeat of last season’s Copa del Rey final, which Sevilla won 1-0.
A quick note on last season’s runners-up (and my pick to win the league this season) Barcelona. They learned that Ronaldinho would be receiving his Spanish citizenship, which allows them to free up a non-EU roster spot. Barca open their league campaign away to Racing Santander on Sunday.
Complete list of fixtures:
Saturday, August 25
Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid
Sevilla v Getafe
Murcia v Real Zaragoza
Sunday, August 26
Athletic Bilbao v Osasuna
Deportivo La Coruña v Almeria
Mallorca v Levante
Racing Santander v Barcelona
Recreativo Huelva v Real Betis
Espanyol v Valladolid
Valencia v Villarreal
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