La Liga Tips: Barca need bolstering but will win opener

It's been a bumpy summer for them but Dan Fitch has his money on Barcelona getting the Ronald Koeman era off to a winning start, as he previews the weekend La Liga matches.

Real Madrid nice price to claim first win

Real Betis 4.30 v Real Madrid 1.89; The Draw 3.95
Saturday 26 September, 20:00
Live on LaLigaTV and Betfair Live Video

Real Madrid will be searching for their first win of the season when they travel to face Real Betis on Saturday.

The La Liga champions could only draw 0-0 at Real Sociedad last weekend. Though Madrid dominated possession and made a lot more efforts on goal, it was Sociedad that created the better chances.

Eden Hazard missed the game through injury and there is something lacking in Madrid without his invention. Even when Madrid were on the winning run last season that saw them win the title, after Hazard picked up an injury, they were having to grind out results.

Real Betis have won both of their games since the season started, keeping clean sheets in victories against Alaves and Valladolid. This could be a tough game for Real Madrid, but that's reflected in their price of 1.89, which is big enough to justify backing them to claim three points.

New look Atletico will beat league leaders

Atletico Madrid 1.52 v Granada 8.00; The Draw 4.00
Sunday 27 September, 15:00
Live on LaLigaTV and Betfair Live Video

It's been all change at Atletico Madrid this week as they look to improve their attacking potency.

Luis Suarez has been signed from Barcelona and though he is in decline at 33, he could still provide the cutting edge that Atletico need. Last season he scored 21 goals. Atletico will never create as many chances as Barca, but Suarez will now be the main man, having spent years playing in a supporting role to the great Lionel Messi.

Diego Simeone has made the decision to let Alvaro Morata go, with the Spanish international returning to Juventus on-loan. It was a surprising move, as with Diego Costa also likely to depart, Atletico could easily be left short of options up front. Clearly, more will be expected of Joao Felix this season, who is likely to be used alongside Suarez in Simeone's first-choice pairing.

Granada are top of La Liga after two games, winning at home against Athletic Bilbao and then Alaves. Yet we have to assume that Atletico's extra class will see this run come to an end and you can back a home win and under 2.5 goals at 2.88.

Barca reliable at home

Barcelona 1.55 v Villarreal 6.40; The Draw 4.70
Sunday 27 September, 20:00
Live on LaLigaTV and Betfair Live Video

The sale of Suarez leaves Barcelona looking short of a natural striker as they go into their first game of the season.

In pre-season friendlies, new manager Ronald Koeman has been using Antoine Griezmann as a striker, but the French forward is happier in a more withdrawn role. For now it's the best option that Barcelona have got, with Martin Braithwaite the only other internal candidate for the role. Barca have until the 5th October to bolster their squad, but for now it looks thin, as Andy Brassell mentioned in his European Football column this week.

Starting with a home match is fortunate for Barcelona, as it was their away form that let them down last season. At the Camp Nou they won 16 of their 19 games (D2 L1).

Villarreal have claimed four points from a possible six since the season started, but have not been that convincing, having had to come from behind to claim a draw with Huesca and then do so again in their 2-1 win over Eibar last weekend. Back Barcelona to win half-time/full-time at 2.34.

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