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Week 1 Review and Predictions 

Aug 12_All About La Liga Summer Transfers & Preseason Bet Tips

Barcelona Drop Points On opening day 

Anna Lewandowska sat in the stands, sporting Barcelona’s new home jersey alongside 81,103 other fans at the Spotify Camp Nou and watched as her husband, Robert Lewandowski and his teammates struggled to score against the smallest club in the Spanish La Liga, Rayo Vallecano. 

Arriving with huge expectations and an established pedigree from Bayern Munich for €50m in July, last season’s Bundesliga top scorer has plenty to prove in La Liga. And yet, he could only manage a shot on target in 90-plus minutes. To add insult to injury, the visitors had the moe clear-cut chances to claim maximum points in the game.

This was supposed to spell the start of a new era for the club which had made four other signings in addition to Lewandowski for a combined fee of €153 million: Franck Kessie, Raphinha, Andres Christensen and Jules Kounde. Any lingering doubts about the players’ chances of being registered for the season were allayed when Barcelona pulled a “fourth lever” and managed to register all but Kounde on a day before their first game. 

In the end, Xavi Hernandez could only admit that his team was not good enough. “It wasn’t our best game,” said the former Barcelona midfielder. 

The Spanish manager is now under more pressure than he was last season when he guided the club to second position from ninth place in November. And in his first full season, having received competent backing from the board, he will need to churn out the right results while playing some eye-catching football in the process. They next play Real Sociedad on Sunday.  

Real Madrid Begin Title Defence with a hard-fought Win 

Carlo Ancelotti had promised to rotate more this season after being criticized for overstretching the side last term. Against Almeria, he did exactly that by giving new signings Antonio Rudiger and Aurélien Tchouameni their La Liga débuts, allowing David Alaba and Luka Modric to get some deserved rest. Nacho Fernandez was also handed a rare start. 

The decision almost backfired. The only respect the newly promoted side was willing to show the champions was the pregame guard of honor. The first sign that Almeria was not going to just roll over for the reigning champions came in the 6th minute when Belgian forward, Largie Ramazani opened the scoring for the hosts. Indeed, for the first hour, they were the better side as Madrid struggled to get into the game. 

It took the introduction of David Alaba from the bench to score the winner with his first touch courtesy of an exquisite free kick after Lucas Vasquez had equalized on the stroke of the hour. “I felt good, and the team gave me the confidence to take it (the free-kick)”, the Austrian admitted. 

It wasn’t business as usual for Los Blancos, but like last season, Real Madrid showed once again that they are able to snatch wins even from the jaws of defeat.  

Sevilla Beaten at Pamplona 

The Rojiblancos were always going to struggle to reach the heights they did last season, especially after losing ace central defensive pair, Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde.  Just nine minutes into the game against Osasuna, Julen Lopetegui’s men trailed thanks to a fine finish from Ezequiel ‘Chimy’ Avila. Although Rafa Mir quickly evened the score two minutes later, Sevilla struggled to impose their will on the game.
A controversial penalty which Aimar Oroz converted with 15 minutes to go meant that the visitors left Pamplona with a defeat. 

Lopetegui will recognize that his team is conspicuously light in defence but the former Madrid manager will need to find a solution soon, beginning with a home fixture against Real Valladolid. 

 Other La Liga results 

Celta Vigo and Espanyol played out an entertaining 2-2 draw as Villarreal earned a convincing 3-0 victory away at Valladolid. 

Former Real Madrid midfielder, Take Kubo scored the game’s only goal in Real Sociedad’s win against Cadiz. 

Gennaro Gattuso began life at Valencia with a win against Girona courtesy of a Carlos Soler penalty.


Betting Tips 

With the La Liga season just a matchday old, here are four betting tips that could win you some money this season:

Over 2.5 Goals in Matches Involving Barcelona 

By Barcelona’s extremely high standards, last season was one to forget. Lionel Messi’s departure was always going to affect the club negatively, but nobody expected Barcelona to be as terrible as they were before Xavi was hired to replace the sacked Koeman. 

In an actual betting context, Barcelona scored over 2.5 goals five times in the first half of the season. Memphis Depay, who is on his way out, finished as the team’s highest scorer with 12 goals last season and January signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, scored 11 goals.

Adding Lewandowski and his minimum of 30 goals in five of the last eight seasons to that forward line means that Barcelona will expectedly win more matches with huge margins. Players like Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati will complement the forward line with assists and goals.

Xavi, a disciple of expansive, expressive attacking football, will also be willing to take more risks in offense, leveraging on his newly-assembled tools.


Goal/Goal in Matches Involving Sevilla 

The last two seasons have seen Sevilla in and around La Liga title discussions. Two seasons ago, they stood a mathematical chance of winning until the final three matches. And last season, they pushed Real Madrid until January when they eventually ran out of steam. 

Not much has changed since. Julian Lopetegui is still the manager with very strict principles on how he wants his team to play. As far as excuses go, Sevilla’s capitulation coincided with the period when they lost several players to injury. In fact, at a point, they had as many as eight first-team players out injured. 

In all likelihood, Sevilla will not win the league, but they will win and score goals especially since Isco has joined them from Real Madrid. Losing Kounde and Diego Carlos will affect their defence, however.  The Rojiblancos have kept a clean sheet in just two clean sheets in the seven games they’ve played since July. 

That mix of a still-potent attack and a suddenly-porous defence should see a lot of  ‘Both teams to score’ outcomes involving Sevilla this season. 

Real Madrid Double Chance at Home 

After an excellent season by the Los Blancos that culminated in a La Liga title and a 14th Champions League title, they have strengthened ahead of the new season. The additions of Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni will add experience, youth and depth to the Real Madrid squad.

Karim Benzema has carried on from where he left off last season. He scored his first goal this season in the Super Cup and is good value to repeat his heroics last season again.

The defending Champions lost only one match at the Bernabeu in La Liga last season. That is a trend  you can back to continue this season.

Over 1.5 Goals in Matches Involving Real Betis 

Since Manuel Pellegrini joined Real Betis, they have become one of the most entertaining sides in Spain. And their Copa del Rey win in April was a fair reward for how good they were last season. 

In Nabil Fekir, Sergio Canales and Borja Iglesias, they have three stars playing at a very high level.  

As the ‘best of the rest’, they struggled to beat the top sides last season. This season, they will attempt to kick on and qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The weakest member of the top four last season; Sevilla, will be wise to be wary of Los Verdiblancos this season. 

Outside the top three, only Villarreal scored more goals than Real Betis last season. In 29 League matches involving the Seville-based side, over 1.5 goals were scored. For La Liga punters , an over 1.5 bet is a must-have in matches involving Real Betis.

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