La Liga Tips: Barcelona will win first game without Messi

The La Liga season begins this weekend and Dan Fitch is backing Barcelona to shrug off their disappointment at losing Lionel Messi and claim three points against Real Sociedad.

La Liga is back from this weekend and while the absence of Lionel Messi will take some time to get used to, it arguably adds to the intrigue in the Spanish title race.

Real Madrid are the favourites at 2.46. The reigning champions Atletico have come in to 3.75 and become second favourites, while Barcelona are now out to 3.95.

Bordalas faces former club

Valencia 2.54 v Getafe 3.25; The Draw 3.25
Friday 11 August, 20:00
Live on La Liga TV

The La Liga season kicks off on Friday with a game between Valencia and Getafe, that features a side portion of needle

Jose Bordalas departed Getafe this summer after five years, during which he guided the Azulones to a best ever finish of fifth in 2019. Bordalas left to join Valencia, giving this fixture just enough spice to see it be served as the season opener. Getafe have since replaced Bordalas with Michel and have enjoyed an unbeaten pre-season (P7 W5 D2), which culminated in a 2-0 win at Brighton last weekend.

The appointment of Bordalas seems to be a good decision by Valencia, which is something the club has been short of in recent years. Valencia have home advantage, but with Getafe having kept things tight in pre-season, the draw looks the best bet at 3.25.

Real struggle to score goals

Alaves 7.8 v Real Madrid 1.46; The Draw 4.8
Saturday 14 August, 21:00
Live on La Liga TV

Real Madrid's season begins with an away trip to Alaves, from which they are expected to take three points.

Carlo Ancelotti is back in charge of Madrid and it's been a quieter summer than we might have expected transfer wise, considering that the club bought no one last year. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane have departed, but so far David Alaba is the only player to have been brought in, though there have been some notable returns from loans, such as Martin Odegaard and Gareth Bale.

Madrid have been struggling for goals in pre-season, scoring only once in two games. Back Real Madrid to win and under 2.5 goals at 4.0.

Title holders are underrated

Celta Vigo 4.5 v Atletico Madrid 1.98; The Draw 3.6
Sunday 15 August, 16:30
Live on La Liga TV

Atletico Madrid begin their title defence at a Celta Vigo side that enjoyed a good finish to last season.

Celta Vigo finished eighth, having won five of their last six games. That perhaps explains a generous price for the visitors, but the La Liga champions seem strangely underrated here.

Atletico have made a smart addition to the squad with the signing of Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese for €35m and the fact that they are said to have made a late move for Messi, suggests that there could be more transfer activity. Back Atletico to win at 1.98.

Barca can still boast of attacking riches

Barcelona 1.81 v Real Sociedad 4.4; The Draw 4.1
Sunday 15 August, 19:00
Live on La Liga TV

Barca play their first game since Messi left and it's against tough opposition, in the form of Real Sociedad.

The visitors finished fifth last season. There's been no transfers in or out over the summer, aside from the purchase of Mat Ryan from Brighton, so for now, we have to expect a similarly solid performance from them this season. As for Barcelona, even without Messi they have an embarrassment of attacking riches and as was the case when Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid, those players now have the chance to step up into the limelight.

If there was an area that Barca really needed to strengthen in the summer, it would have been their defence. A Barcelona win and both teams to score is 3.25.

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