All is set for the commencement of the 2022-23 Spanish LaLiga season.
Last season saw Real Madrid claim their 35th league title while Barcelona launched a mid-season charge, finding their feet under Xavi Hernandez to book a ticket to the UEFA Champions League this season as Atleticó Madrid and Sevilla finished third and fourth respectively to also secure their place with Europe’s elite.
Real Betis and Real Sociedad also finished fifth and sixth respectively to secure their place in the UEFA Europa League while Villarreal finished seventh as they gear up for their campaign in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Meanwhile at the bottom of end of the log, Granada, Levante and Deportivo Alavés were relegated to the second division as they finished 18th, 19th and 20th respectively.
Replacing them will be the trio of UD Almería, Real Valladolid and Girona FC who gained promotion to the top division.
With the stage set and the teams ready, all is set for what promises to be another exciting Spanish football season.
UD Almería vs Real Madrid – Estadio del Mediterráneo (Sunday, August 14, 2022 – 9:00pm)
Fresh off their UEFA Super Cup win on Wednesday, Real Madrid will travel to the Mediterráneo to face newly-promoted side UD Almería.
Last season, Los Blancos welcomed Carlo Ancelotti back for his second spell as manager and the Italian did not disappoint.
The 14-time and reigning European kings were crowned champions, finishing 13 points above nearest rivals Barcelona, in what was a brilliant season.
Now heading into the new season, Ancelotti’s side have their work cut out as they are big targets with them known as both defending champions of Europe and Spain – and with the popular saying, ‘it is easier to get to the top than to stay at the top’, Madrid know it will be a difficult yet interesting task to defend their crowns.
The campaign has already kicked off with a bang following their 2-0 Super Cup triumph against Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday and the Spanish giants will once again rely on their dangerous duo upfront, captain Karim Benzema and Vinícius Júnior.
The pair were unstoppable last season as Benzema netted 27 goals and 12 assists while Vinícius had 17 goals and 10 goals in LaLiga.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on Kylian Mbappe – with the Frenchman penning a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain – club president Florentino Perez and Ancelotti declined to recruit another forward as they will once again depend on the likes of Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio and Rodrygo to make the perfect front three.
Madrid have also welcomed Antonio Rüdiger and Aurélien Tchouméni to the side while the likes of Isco, Borja Mayoral, Takefusa Kubo, Luka Jovic, Gareth Bale and Marcelo have all departed the club.
On the other hand, Almería could have wished for a much more less difficult start to their return for top flight football.
The 2014-15 season was the last time Rubi’s side were in the big time, spearheaded by the 18-goal campaign of Nigerian Sadiq Umar, they finished joint-top of LaLiga 2 last season recording 81 points in 42 games.
Madrid are heavy favourites heading into the contest as they are on a winning run of five games against Almería. They are also unbeaten in 10 games while also being the first to find the back of the net in four of their last five meetings. Also, Almería have not kept a clean sheet in four of their last five games against Madrid.
Last time out: LaLiga 29/04/2015 – Real Madrid 3:0 UD Almería
FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano – Spotify Camp Nou (Saturday, August 13, 2022 – 8:00pm)
There is huge optimism and hope in Catalonia ahead of the 2022-23 season for FC Barcelona.
The 2021-22 season began like a nightmare for the Catalan giants. A UEFA Champions League group stage exit coupled with domestic struggles in LaLiga ultimately led to the exit of Ronald Koeman.
Hence, Xavi was appointed in November 2021. The former Barcelona captain led Barça to a second place finish with his most notable result coming at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in a 4-0 victory over Real Madrid in April.
The Blaugrana showed signs of promise ahead of a new season as Xavi turned things around instantly.
Upon his arrival, Xavi recruited the likes of Ferran Torres, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Dani Alves and Adama Traore in January to save Barça’s season.
Although, despite the exits of Alves and Traore, Xavi and Barça are having an absolutely outstanding summer transfer window.
The five-time European champions have welcomed Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen on free transfers while Robert Lewandowki, Jules Koundé and Raphinha have also been brought in from Bayern Munich for €50million, Sevilla for €50million and Leeds United for €58million, respectively and with the rumoured interest in Bernardo Silva, Barça will definitely be a force ahead of the new season.
Although, eyebrows have been raised at Barça’s ability to recruit star names for such transfer fees, they are in a race against time to register these new players ahead of the new season, with Ousmane Dembélé inclusive as he signed a new two-year deal.
However, following an unbeaten pre-season, focus will also be on getting maximum points in front of their home fans against a Vallecano team whom they could not beat last season.
Vallencano did a famous double over Barcelona, recording 1-0 wins in October 2021 and April 2022.
Barça have also not been able to keep a clean sheet against Vallecano in their last eight games. Both teams have also scored in six of their last eight meetings and three or more goals have been scored in the same number of games.
Last time out: LaLiga 24/04/2022 – FC Barcelona 0:1 Rayo Vallecano
Getafe vs Atleticó Madrid – Coliseum Alfonso Pérez (Monday, August 15, 2022 – 6:30pm)
Diego Simeone and Atleticó Madrid begin their campaign at Getafe on Monday.
Atleti have had a rather quiet transfer window as Simeone looks to just consolidate on his current squad following arrivals of Axel Witsel and Nahuel Molina and the most notable departure being Luis Suarez.
Last season for Atleti was slightly disappointing with a lot of up and down results but a trip to Getafe who survived the drop by a point will present a good way to start the season.
Atleti have not lost to Getafe in their last 20 games, also scoring first in eight of their last 10 games. However, it is worthy to note that this could be a low scoring affair as less than three goals have been recorded in eight of the last 10 games.
Last time out: LaLiga 12/02/2022 – Atleticó Madrid 4:3 Getafe
Osasuna vs Sevilla – Estadio El Sadar (Friday, August 12, 2022 – 8:00pm)
An impressive 2021-22 season for Sevilla was disrupted by a handful of draws.
Julen Lopetegui’s side sustained a credible and surprising title challenge until their fire quenched at the latter stages of the season. They recorded 16 draws and 18 wins as they suffered the joint-least number of losses alongside Real Madrid, dropping maximum points in just four games last season.
While they have lost the likes of Diego Carlos, Jules Koundé and Luuk de Jong – Lopetegui has welcomed Isco, Marcão and Alex Telles (loan) to his squad.
The former Spain coach will attempt to push for the title with a team which already has the likes of Lucas Ocampos, Youssef En-Nesyri, Papu Gomez, Marcos Acuña and captain Jesus Navas.
Osasuna on the other hand will be hoping to improve on their finish in the top half last season as they ended the campaign in 10th place with 47 points but hosting Sevilla could be a difficult task to start their season.
Sevilla are unbeaten in 10 games against Osasuna and they have not conceded in their last four games while also scoring first in six of their last seven encounters.
Last time out: LaLiga 05/02/2022 – Osasuna 0:0 Sevilla
Copa Del Rey champions Real Betis Balompié will attempt to go one better in the league this season and finish in a Champions League place as they welcome Elche CF to Benito Villamarin on Monday night.
The last time both sides faced in LaLiga ended in a 1-0 victory for Elche on April 19, 2022.
Just like Betis, Real Sociedad will also hope to go a step further and claim a Champions League ticket.
Imanol Alguacil’s charges will make the trip to Estadio Ramon de Carranza to face Cádiz CF on Sunday.
Sociedad will be favourites as they are on a winning streak of six games against Cádiz and also and are also unbeaten in their last eight against Sergio’s side.
The previous meeting between these sides ended in a 3-0 win for Sociedad on May 12, 2022.
Unai Emery’s Villarreal will kickoff their season with a trip to the José Zorrilla to face newly-promoted Real Valladolid.
Valladolid have been unable to beat Villarreal in their last five games and they are without a clean sheet in their last four meetings.
This fixture also lacks goals as three or more goals have not been recorded in the last seven games between the sides.
Villarreal recorded a 2-0 win on May 13, 2021 in their last meeting against Valladolid.
Fellow newcomers, Girona FC will start their season at the Mestalla against Gennaro Gattuso’s Valencia on Sunday while Celta Vigo and Athletic Club will welcome Espanyol and RCD Mallorca respectively.
LaLiga matchday one fixtures in full
Friday, August 12, 2022
Osasuna vs Sevilla – 8:00pm
Saturday, August 13, 2022
Celta Vigo vs Espanyol – 4:00pm
Real Valladolid vs Villarreal – 6:00pm
Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano – 8:00pm
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Cádiz CF vs Real Sociedad – 4:30pm
Valencia vs Girona FC – 6:30pm
UD Almería vs Real Madrid – 9:00pm
Monday, August 15, 2022
Athletic Club vs RCD Mallorca – 4:30pm
Getafe vs Atleticó Madrid – 6:30pm
Real Betis Balompié vs Elche CF – 8:30pm
(All times in WAT)