After a long summer break, the new La Liga football season has finally arrived!
Thanks to the departure of some great footballers, along with the serious discussion of moving regular season games to North America, the 2018/19 season already has viewers on the edge of their seats.
Keen to not disappoint, Matchday 1 was full of surprises, courtesy of games full of goals and a list of improbable goal scorers.
The first game of the season had Real Valldolid visiting Girona at the Estadi Montilivi. The season-opener, however, ended in a goalless draw – despite the home team having 68% of the possession and a staggering 13 shots compared to Vallodolid’s two.
It wasn’t until the 38th minute of the second game that the first goal of the year was scored, when Levante’s Roger Marti did the business away from home against Real Betis. The Granotas, who were appointed back to La Liga last year, pulled off a surprising 0-3 victory to start their 2018/19 campaign in the best way possible.
Saturday paired Celta Vigo against Espanyol, with both teams earning points after a 1-1 draw, and Villarreal served Real Sociedad a win on a platter after a defensive error let the away side win 1-2 despite going down a goal after 16 mins.
Current champions Barcelona entered the new season now without their midfield magician Andres Iniesta, but still managed a 3-0 victory against Alaves lead by their newly-appointed captain, Lionel Messi. After a goalless first half, the Argentinian opened up the scoring with an impressive surprise free-kick – which also happened to be La Liga’s 6,000th goal.
Newly appointed Huesca earned a surprising 1-2 victory against Eibar after a first-half brace from Alejandro Gallar Falguera set the tone for the match, as well as the team’s mentality for the season.
Sevilla was another team to gain an important away win thanks to a debut hat-trick from newly transferred Portuguese striker Andre Silva. Los Rojiblancos ended up cruising to a 1-4 win against Rayo Vallecano and currently sit at the top of the table.
Champions of Europe Real Madrid entered their first season in 10 years without star-man Cristiano Ronaldo, but enjoyed a 2-0 home win against Getafe. For the past three seasons, Gareth Bale has been the one to start Los Blancos’ season off with a goal, but this time it was defender Dani Carvajal who claimed the spot.
Atlético Madrid are another team who bid farewell this summer to a life-long superstar – El Nino, more commonly known as Fernando Torres. Despite saying goodbye to one of their most popular players, the side has many others coming back from a successful World Cup – including Thomas Lemar, Lucas Hernandez, and, of course, Antoine Griezmann. Their opening game finished a 1-1 draw away to Valencia, but the team looks in good form to challenge the two heavyweights for the title.
The last game of the week saw Athletic Bilbao take on Leganes, where it looked as if both teams were to split the points – until a 93rd minute header from Iker Muniain stole three points for the home side.
Beside the score lines, one of the most surprising aspects of opening week was the league’s announcement of a partnership with Relevent Sports, which would see regular season games played in North America. Many players and fans are voicing their opinions about the matter; it is reported that La Liga captains will be banding together in protest of the partnership, and a strike may be looming.
There’s much to unfold this season, bring on Matchday 2.
Goal of the week:
While many would say Leo Messi’s under the wall freekick would take the cake, Levante’s Jose Luis Morales’ goal exemplified speed, skill, and focus to bring his team up 0-2 after 54 minutes.