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Managing Madrid's La Liga Week 2 Breakdown

Canales will look for his first start in Valencia against Atletico Madrid.
Canales will look for his first start in Valencia against Atletico Madrid.
Finally, the second week of La Liga is here, after the always opportune FIFA and UEFA matches (oh, the irony). We have an interesting Saturday coming up, with Barcelona opening up the weekend against Real Sociedad in Anoeta at 18:00. Meanwhile, Villarreal will be playing against Sevilla in El Madrigal and Real Madrid will play its first official game of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu, against Getafe at 20:00.

But the best game of the day (and the weekend) comes up at 22:00 in Mestalla, with Canales and Valencia facing the renewed Atlético Madrid, headed by Colombian striker Radamel Falcao.

Valencia-Atletico are always hard-fought games, and even more since the rojiblancos' polemical victory  in the semifinals of the Europa League two years ago, so I expect this game to be played defensively. Valencia likes the counter-attack and Atlético will still be fitting their new pieces into Manzano's system. I expect a 1-1 draw.

As I said before, Barcelona will head to Anoeta to play against Real Sociedad. Griezmann and his teammates (specially Mexican Carlos Vela, former Arsenal player) should not cause Barcelona many troubles, especially with Carles Puyol ready to play. Barça should win by a good margin, say 0-3.

The Villarreal game against Sevilla should be a pretty good one. With Alvaro Negredo, Perotti, Jesús Navas, Giuseppe Rossi, Nilmar and Borja Valero I say this game will probably have some goals. These teams are likely to fight for European spots, so they will take this match seriously. Negredo has started the season really well, and I think Sevilla can compete for a win in El Madrigal, since I don't see the Yellow Submarine as strong as they were last season. I pick a 1-2 win for the Andalusian side.

Real Madrid will face Getafe at the Bernabéu. The team coached by Luis García Plaza goes to the white coliseum with a lot of injuries in their defensive line, so, since they weren't likely to get a good result with a healthy team, I expect Real Madrid to score early and often. They are a dangerous team offensively though, with Güiza and Miku, so I guess Madrid will have to be more focused defensively than they were against Zaragoza if they want to finish with a clean sheet. Pedro León will not play the game because of a clause in his loan contract. I would bet for a 4-1 win for the merengues.

That's all for Saturday, but Betis and Mallorca will play Sunday at 12:00. Both teams earned a win in their first game of the season, Betis over Granada and Mallorca over Getafe. Mallorca has sold De Guzmán, who was its only dangerous player, so I think Betis could get the win in the Benito Villamarín, partially because they'll be pushed by their fans. A 1-0 or 2-0 to Betis is probable.

Racing Santander and Levante play at 16:00. This is probably the least interesting game of the weekend, as I don't really see any player to look out for. These two teams are going to be fighting to avoid relegation, so it is going to be a defensive game played by teams that don't have a lot of firepower. Levante is going to suffer a lot without Caicedo and García Plaza this season, and I think they will be one of the teams that gets relegated to Liga Adelante. My pick is a 0-0 or a 1-0.

At 18:00 we have another game that will probably end up to be really boring. Osasuna plays against Sporting Gijón. If La Liga put these new playing times for the Asian market to watch the games, they are not really doing a good job by selling these kind of games. I guess Osasuna could get the win at home. Reyno de Navarra is always a difficult stadium to play in (we even lost there last season). 1-0 win by Osasuna.

At the same time, Vallecas will enjoy its first Primera División game in about ten years against Zaragoza. I think Rayo Vallecano is an interesting team, they gave Atletico Madrid a hard time two weeks ago and it can be argued that they even deserved a win, but Zaragoza is not the team we saw two weeks ago as well (Mourinho pointed that out). I say Rayo gets a 2-1 win.

In the last game of the day Espanyol faces Athletic Bilbao in Barcelona. This one should be interesting as well, but Espanyol is not the same team without Osvaldo (transfered to AS Roma) and I think they will have a hard time trying to recreate the great season they had last year. Bilbao is a better team and I really see them getting the win with Muniain, Javi Martínez, Ander Herrera and Fernando Llorente. 0-2 win for the Basques.

On Monday, Málaga will play its first home game of the year. They didn't play well at all against Sevilla in the first week, and the players need to get used to play with each other, but they have enough firepower to beat Granada. They were promoted last season and I don't think they will stay long in the Liga BBVA. Pellegrini's team should get a comfortable 2-0 or 3-0 win.

This are all the games to be played during this second week of the season, let's hope Madrid gets an easy win against Getafe, since we are starting the Champions League this Tuesday!

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