Barca, Real Madrid fans to wait till Monday

Madrid, Aug 22 (IANS) Fans of the big two in Spain's La Liga will have to be patient this weekend as Barcelona don't play until Sunday night while Real Madrid don't kick off until Monday when they face a difficult trip to Granada.

The action kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday when Getafe, who were soundly beaten away to Real Sociedad in their opening game, entertain an Almeria, whose return to the top flight was blighted by a home defeat to Villarreal, reports Xinhua.

The action then turns to Real Sociedad's Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian but it is not Real Sociedad who are the home side but neighbours Athletic Club Bilbao, who are playing in Anoeta while their new San Mames Barria Stadium is being prepared to host its first ever game.

Athletic travel with the support of 30,000 fans cheered by the 2-1 win in Valladolid and this week's signing off midfielder Mikel Rico. Rivals Osasuna will also count on numerous travelling fans but knowing they need to improve after kicking off after a defeat against Granada.

Real Sociedad are away to Elche Saturday as the home side play the first La Liga game in the Martin Valero Stadium for 30 years. Real Sociedad will however be a tough nut to crack as they showed with their win at home to Getafe and an even better display against Olympique Lyon in their Champions League qualifying round; two displays which imply its business as usual despite the departure of Philippe Montanier over the summer.

Espanyol and Valencia play in Cornella el Prat where they will try to build upon opening day results which saw Espanyol draw away to Celta Vigo and Valencia defeat Malaga 1-0.

Finally Saturday sees the La Liga return to El Madrigal as an optimistic Villarreal entertain Valladolid. Villarreal kicked off with a win in Almeria while Villarreal showed moments of good football despite their defeat to Athletic.

Moving on to Sunday and without doubt the standout game is FC Barcelona's trip to Malaga. Barca wiped the floor 7-0 with Levante in the opening game but Atletico Madrid worked hard to show they are mortals in the first leg of the Supercup Wednesday.

That game saw Neymar open his account for Barca and he could well make the starting 11 against Malaga, which has seen changes this summer.

Levante meanwhile will try to recover from their opening day hammering at home to Sevilla but lost 1-3 at home to Atletico in their first match.

Meanwhile there's bad news for any Betis fan who need to get up early for work on Monday morning. Their match against Celta doesn't doesn't kick-off until 2300 hours which may be partly excusable due to the heat in Seville but which shows that at times Spanish football should take fans more into consideration.

The round of matches finishes Monday night when Real Madrid travel to Granada. Carlo Ancelotti's side were unconvincing at home to Betis last Sunday and will be without Xabi Alonso, who broke a toe Wednesday, and Asier Illaramendi, through injury. That could give a chance to Casimiro, while everyone in Spain waits to see if Gareth Bale will finally become a Real Madrid player.


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