Real Betis (Home)
Barcelona's La Liga season starts with a home tie against Sevilla-based club Real Betis. Betis finished exactly mid table during the last campaign but the club's season was not without incident. After securing promotion in the season prior, coach Pepe Mel found difficulty in securing results in the top division. He was eventually sacked in January and the long term servant of the club, Juan Merino was brought in as the replacement. Despite leading them to safety and a tenth place finish, Merino stepped down to make way for Gus Poyet. The Uruguayan arrives for the first time in La Liga as a manager but has plenty of experience of the league through his 239 games with Zaragoza during his playing days.
Barcelona found good favour in their two games against Betis last season beating them with an aggregate scoreline of 6-0 so Barça fans will head into the league opener full of conifdence. Especially considering Barcelona's last four opening league games at home have ended with a heavy scoreline to the home side.
|2014/15||Barcelona 3-0 Elche|
|2013/14||Barcelona 7-0 Levante|
|2012/13||Barcelona 5-1 Real Sociedad|
|2011/12||Barcelona 5-0 Villarreal|
Both of Barcelona's main opponents for the title, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, will also be expecting opening wins but it may not all be plain sailing for Los Blancos as they face a trip away to Real Sociedad. The league is not going to be won in the opening stages but it is important for Barça to obtain as many points as quickly as possible.
Athletic Bilbao (Away)
Barça's first away trip of the season is one of the hardest journeys of the season. Barcelona played Athletic in the Supercopa at the start of the season last term and were handed an embarrassing 4-0 defeat in the opening encounter. A fifteen minute hat trick from Aritz Aduriz put the tie out of Barça's reach despite a 1-1 draw in the second leg. Barça shortly returned to the San Mames for their first league game and managed to salvage some pride with a 1-0 win but the Supercopa defeat proved how dangerous Athletic are.
Aduriz's hat-trick sealed Atheltic's win
Ernesto Valverde will be hoping for a strong performance and to capitalise on any early season fitness issues in the Barça squad.
Deportivo Alavés (Home)
One of two newly promoted teams in Barça's opening period, Deportivo Alvaés secured promotion as champions of the Seguna Division. It will be the club's first appearance in the top division since 2006 and that time has even seen them drop to the third division. However, Alvavés is not a club bereft of history and the crowning jewel in their 95 year lifespan is reaching the 2001 Uefa Cup Final. The side eventually lost the tie to Liverpool 5-4 in extra time despite recovering from being 2-0 down.
With just 49 goals scored, Alavés can be characterised more by a strong defence but it will require an even greater effort to keep the strike force of Neymar, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi out.
At a capacity of just 8,138, Leganés has the second smallest ground in the division with only Eibar housing lower. They are another newly promoted team and this represents their first ever appearance in the top division. This game really should be a walk in the park for a footballing giant such as F.C Barcelona but they have to ensure complacency doesn't step in as they do not want to go into their next game against Atlético Madrid behind on points.
Atlético Madrid (Home)
A bogey team for Tata Martino has turned into one of Luis Enrique's favourites. Winning seven of the last eight matches, Enrique has utilised MSN to find a way of being Diego Simeone's men but it is the Madrid team who secured the win in the last meeting. With Barça heading full steam towards retaining the treble, they were stopped in their tracks on the 13th of April at the Vicente Calderón.
Atleti's main man Antoine Griezmann was proving to be a thorn in Barça's side. He was constantly finding space in the pockets of space around the Barça back four before showcasing his immense heading power in the 37th minute. An outside of the foot cross from Saúl Ñíguez found the Frenchman in-between Javier Mascherano and Gerard Piqué. Griezmann rose and headed swiftly into the net. A late penalty from the same player kicked Barça out of the Champions League and forced them into a mini-crisis. They recovered to win the league and Copa but the Atlético defat still left a bitter taste in the mouth.
Meanwhile Griezmann has gone from strength to strength. Signing a new contract at the start of the summer, the Frenchman was in superb from in the Euro. He secured awards for the top goalscorer and best player but was denied by a late Portugal goal in his quest for the Euro crown. Arguably the most in-form player in world football, his name will be the first on Enrqiue's list of players to stop.
Griezmann was in superb form in the last Atlético - Barcelona clash
Barça's opening fixtures are a mixture of winnable games peppered with two tough matches. You would expect Barcelona to come away with the maximum 15 points but don't be surprised if they don't have a 100% record come the end of September.