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La Liga News: 22 August 2015; League Kicks Off With Sevilla Malaga Draw, Pepe Extends Real Madrid Contract

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La Liga and union agree to play games over Christmas period - ESPN FC
Since 1990, La Liga teams have always had a two-week "winter break" which allows players a midseason rest to recharge their batteries, and also lets non-Spaniards travel to spend the holiday period with their families in their home countries.

Big changes for FC Barcelona's 2015/16 La Liga rivals | FC Barcelona
A look at the players who have been added and dropped from the nineteen other teams in the Spanish First Division during the summer

Eurosport Roundtable: La Liga predictions - Eurosport British
Despite their stuttering pre-season form that included quite the going over from Athletic Club in the Spanish Super Cup, the consensus here is that Barcelona have too much quality. Real Madrid are given the nod just twice. The battle for fourth in Spain could be one of the tightest in years with Sevilla, Athletic Club and Villarreal all looking particularly strong this season while Valencia should not be discounted.

Pepe signs new Real Madrid deal -
Real Madrid defender Pepe has committed himself to the club by signing a contract that will expire in 2017. The Portugal international had entered the final year of his deal and, after Sergio Ramos penned an extension earlier this week, the club has moved to tie down another long-term player.

Southampton enter the race for Real Madrid midfielder Lucas Silva -
As mentioned in The Express, Lucas Silva has also been linked with Arsenal and Chelsea but Southampton remain desperate for reinforcements. A loan deal is thought to be a more likely option, with the 22-year-old still highly rated in the Spanish capital.

Kovačić joins Modrić at Real: "I'm living a dream" - Croatian Football Federation
From this season, Real Madrid midfield will feature two Croatians. Luka Modrić joined the Spanish giants from English side Tottenham in 2012, while Mateo Kovačić joined this summer from the Italian side Inter. Kovačić, a 21-year-old with 21 caps for Croatia and one international goal, against Gibraltar in June 2015, signed a six-year contract at Santiago Bernabeu. He moved to Serie A in 2013, after leaving the ranks of Dinamo Zagreb.

'United not selling De Gea' | Football Espana
Louis van Gaal has insisted that Real Madrid target David de Gea will remain a Manchester United player beyond September 1. The goalkeeper has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Red Devils this season, with the manager continually pointing to concerns over the 24-year-old's mindset.

Asensio: Espanyol perfect for me | Football Espana
Marco Asensio believes Espanyol are the "perfect" club for him to develop as a player following his official unveiling on Friday. The Spain Under-19 attacker has joined Los Periquitos on a season-long loan from Real Madrid and is confident that he can begin to realise his top-level potential at Cornella-El Prat.

Atletico Madrid poised to challenge La Liga best this season - ESPN FC
The talking is over, the hard yards have been put in. And after a long, seemingly endless summer, La Liga is back. With it, there is once again a sense of optimism around the Vicente Calderon stadium. The club's best players have decided to stay on, Diego Simeone's new contract is nascent and the club have enjoyed a terrific summer of incomings.

Malaga 0 - 0 Sevilla - Sky Sports
Sevilla had new signing Steven N'Zonzi sent off as they were held to a goalless draw by Malaga in the first game of the 2015/16 La Liga season. N'Zonzi, a summer arrival from Stoke, picked up his second yellow of the match in the 69th minute to leave Sevilla having to cling on in the closing stages at La Rosaleda.

Javi Gracia says goal vs Sevilla 'should have been valid' - ESPN FC
Malaga coach Javi Gracia felt his side were incorrectly denied what could have been a match-winning goal against Sevilla after seeing Charles' late strike ruled out for offside. Summer signing Charles looked to have snatched the points for Malaga in the opening game of the new Primera Division season when he tucked home Juan Carlos' low cross with three minutes remaining.

Llorente to join Sevilla 'in days' | Football Espana
Sevilla will reportedly finalise their swoop for Juventus striker Fernando Llorente "in the coming days". According to Marca, the 30-year-old will arrive in Andalucia on a season-long loan after the Bianconeri unsuccessfully tried to negotiate an exchange deal with Real Madrid for Isco and then Asier Illarramendi.

Valencia chasing Otamendi cover | FourFourTwo
Valencia coach Nuno hailed the departed Nicolas Otamendi, and said he was still chasing a replacement for the new Manchester City centre-back. Otamendi's City move was secured on Thursday, and while central defender Eliaquim Mangala was ruled out of a loan move from City to Valencia by Manuel Pellegrini, Nuno was still hopeful of bringing in cover.

AS Monaco v Valencia background - UEFA Champions League - News -
Conceding a late third goal at Valencia in the play-off first leg has ramped up the pressure as AS Monaco bid to make it back into the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

La Liga chief backs Rayo Vallecano NASL investment proposal - ESPN FC
La Liga president Javier Tebas has welcomed a move by Rayo Vallecano to purchase proposed North American Soccer League expansion franchise Oklahoma City FC. Although nothing has yet been publicly confirmed, widespread reports in Spain have said that Rayo are to buy a majority of shares in the projected Sooner State franchise, and become the first La Liga club to have a controlling interest in a U.S.-based soccer team.

Real Mallorca Impose Ridiculously Strict New Rules On First-Team Players – No More ‘Extravagant’ Haircuts Or Stealing Toilet Paper | Who Ate all the Pies
The board at Real Mallorca have come down incredibly hard on their players by imposing a raft of incredibly strict new rules and codes of conduct on their first-team squad. According to AS, the senior players were all issued with a rule book in June that outlines exactly how they are expected to behave and present themselves from this season on.

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