Getting antsy without consistent La Liga matches to watch or game outcomes to monitor? Can't wait for when FC Barcelona and Real Madrid get back into weekly action? You're in luck: we're less than a month away now, from the August 23rd commencement of the 2015 2016 La Liga season, and on July 15th, the La Liga 2015 - 2016 opening day fixtures were officially announced.
Who will win? Who will lose? Which football clubs will establish themselves as clear contenders for the season to come? Read on for our preview of La Liga's 10 opening day soccer matches!
The Big Games
As with every other football division, the Spanish La Liga has some top-tier teams that everyone will be
paying attention to on opening day-regardless of club allegiance.
The most obvious of these tops teams is FC Barcelona, fresh off their dynamite, treble-winning performance during the 2014 2015 season. On August 23rd, they'll be donning the Barcelona away shirt 2015 2016 for an away fixture at Athletic Bilbao.
Even with the home field advantage, it's unlikely that Bilbao's defense will be able to stand up to the record-breaking Barca frontline of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez.
Real Madrid only trailed two points behind Barcelona on the 2014 2015 La Liga table, and threatened the club's treble campaign on numerous occasions. Their opening day fixture-an away game against recent Segunda Division promotion, Sporting de Gijon-will draw as many eyes as Barca's, and will be a near-automatic victory for Real. Sporting de Gijon certainly drew the short straw here, having to face Cristiano Ronaldo and company as their La Liga welcoming campaign. Still, it should be interesting to see how the Vikings are adjusting to the leadership of new manager, Rafa Benitez.
Atletico Madrid will have an equally easy time during week one, with Les Palmas-another recently promoted team-set to be their first opponent. Atletico's play dipped in quality last season after their title-winning run in 2013 2014, but this home game against an easy target should help the club to start off 2015 2016 right.
Dark Horse Contenders
There are two dark horse contenders to consider in this year's La Liga: Valencia and Sevilla. Respectively, the two teams finished just one and two points behind Atletico Madrid last season to claim fourth and fifth place. Sevilla even clinched their second consecutive Europa League title in 2014 2015.
Next to the titans that are Barcelona and Real Madrid, it's unlikely that Valencia and Sevilla will be able to win the La Liga title, though not out of the question. Atletico just won the La Liga a year and a half ago, after all, and these two squads are on a similar level. Both have away games against middle-of-the-road soccer squads scheduled for opening day, Valencia against Malaga, and Sevilla versus Rayo Vallecano. We're betting on wins for both dark horses.
The Rest of the Field
It will mostly be dedicated fans paying attention to the other five games scheduled for opening day, as each is unlikely to offer many breadcrumbs for where the season may be going. We've briefly highlighted these remaining fixtures below, along with our predicted outcomes for each.
Game: Deportivo La Coruna (H) vs. Real Sociedad (A)
Predicted Outcome: Deportivo barely avoided the red zone last year, and is almost doubtlessly the weaker team, but we'll predict draw here because these two teams stalemated in both of their head-to-head fixtures in 2014 2015.
Game: Espanyol (H) vs. Getafe (A)
Predicted Outcome: Espanyol beat Getafe 2-0 in this match last year, and will win again this year.
Game: Granada CF (H) vs. Eibar (A)
Predicted Outcome: These two teams finished 17th and 18th, respectively, on the 2014 2015 La Liga table. We'll give the edge to Granada, just because of home field advantage, but this one could go either way.
Game: Levante (H) vs. Celta de Vigo (A)
Predicted Outcome: Celta de Vigo had a good season last year, finishing just outside of Europa League qualification range. They also beat Levante twice during the 2014 2015, so another win is an easy bet here.
Game: Real Bettis (H) vs. Villarreal (A)
Predicted Outcome: Villarreal finished sixth last year, while Real Bettis is the last of three Segunda Division teams to have been recently promoted. We'll bet on the away team.
Who are you rooting for on opening day? Stop by Soccer Box to pick up a new jersey or two and support your favorite football club. From the Barcelona shirt 2015 2016, to the Atletico Madrid 2015 2016 home jersey, Soccer Box is the place to find high-quality jerseys for the 2015 2016 La Liga!