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La Liga Week One Preview

The Primera Liga season begins this weekend with champions Real Madrid looking to end a dismal run of form against bogey side Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor.

Madrid, chasing a hat-trick of La Liga titles for the first time since the late 1980s, have not managed to win in La Coruna since a 3-0 triumph during the 1991/92 campaign.

Last season the Spanish giants suffered their 11th defeat in 16 meetings at the Riazor after going down 1-0 to a Pepe own goal, but confidence is high in the Madrid camp heading into this weekend’s game.

Speaking following his side’s remarkable Supercopa triumph over Valencia last weekend, where Madrid won the second leg 4-2 despite having two men sent-off, defender Miguel Torres said: “This has been a beautiful way to start the season and we just think about improving to do better in the league.

“The group’s dynamic is very good and the new players in the squad have added much to our game. We made it in the end.

“History is there to be rewritten and we hope to do that in the Riazor. We are working on it and we’ll do even better with this hype,” added Torres, whose side also defeated Sporting Lisbon 5-3 on Wednesday.

Barcelona, searching for a first major trophy since 2006, begin their quest for the league title with a trip to Segunda Division champions Numancia.

Under the guidance of new coach Pep Guardiola, new-look Barca have enjoyed an impressive pre-season although their run of seven successive victories came to an end on Tuesday when they slipped to 1-0 defeat against Wisla Krakow.

However, that loss did not prevent the Catalan giants from progressing through to the Champions League group stages and captain Carles Puyol does not believe the setback will cause any lasting damage.

“Despite the defeat against Wisla, I still think that our performance wasn’t too bad at all. Pre-season has been great overall,” Puyol said.

Numancia coach Sergio Kresic, who is currently one of only four foreign coaches in the Primera Liga – the lowest number in six years, faces a tough start to life in the top flight, with matches against Madrid and Villarreal to follow the visit of Barca.

Last season’s runners-up Villarreal are also away on the opening weekend as they travel to Osasuna.

The Yellow Submarine will be without Giuseppe Rossi and Robert Pires through injury, but have been boosted by the recent contract renewals of their sought-after Spanish internationals Santi Cazorla and Marcos Senna.

It is a similar story at Valencia, where fellow Euro 2008 winners David Villa and David Silva have penned new deals, although if Sunday’s dismal Supercopa capitulation against Madrid is anything to go by, Los Che still have plenty of kinks to iron out.

Valencia, under new coach Unai Emery, start their campaign at home to a Real Mallorca side who will be virtually unrecognisable to the team that finished seventh last season, with a dozen players coming in and the likes of Dani Guiza, Fernando Navarro, Jonas Gutierrez and Ariel Ibagaza leaving.

The Valencia-Mallorca game is one of two matches taking place on Saturday night, with the other being the season curtain-raiser between Espanyol and Real Valladolid earlier in the evening.

The remaining fixtures take place on Sunday, with Athletic Bilbao at home to Almeria, Recreativo Huelva making the short trip to Andalusian rivals Real Betis and Racing Santander hosting a Sevilla side who have been hugely impressive in pre-season.

Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid, in buoyant mood after reaching the Champions League group stages for the first time in over a decade after thumping Schalke 4-0 in midweek, are at home to newcomers Malaga, while the other promoted side Sporting Gijon host Getafe.

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