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Spanish Primera Liga gets underway Saturday

IANS  |  Madrid 

Saturday sees the start of the new Spanish Primera Liga season with four games scheduled to be played on the opening day.

All four matches take place in Andalusia, where the temperature will be high, reports Xinhua.

The opening match of the season sees Malaga entertain Athletic Club Bilbao in a game that has been brought forward to allow Athletic more time to prepare the return leg of their Champions League qualification round against Italian outfit Napoli.

The Basques took a 1-1 draw from Tuesday's opening leg and although coach Ernesto Valverde may rest some players ahead of the return match, he will also hope Tuesday's game has given his side a sharper competitive edge than their rivals.

Malaga struggled for much of last season after losing several key players, but the club hopes the arrival of Javi Gracia to replace the unpopular Berndt Schuster will improve the atmosphere in the La Rosaleda Stadium and with the city currently in its annual 'fiestas' there should be a party mood Saturday.

Perhaps the most interesting match Saturday sees Sevilla, who won the Europa League and finished fifth in the table last season, entertain a Valencia side which has had a tumultuous summer with the sale of the club to Singapore billionaire Peter Lin, the replacement of coach Juan Antonio Pizzi by Nuno Espiritu Santo and a wholesale overhaul of the squad.

Nuno may need time to mould the new arrivals into a team and time is not something coaches always get at Valencia, but pre-season performances have been promising and if things go right this season his side should challenge clubs such as Sevilla and Athletic Club for fourth spot in the table.

Deportivo la Coruna return to the top flight with a side packed with free transfers and loan signings and face a difficult trip to Granada, who are sure to be competitive under the guidance of coach Joaquin Caparros, although they have not started a season with a home win in Primera Liga for 43 years.

Almeria, who escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, play at home to Espanyol in a late kick off. The main interest in this game is how Espanyol will fare under inexperienced coach Sergio Gonzalez, who has the difficult task of replacing Javier Aguirre.

FC Barcelona entertain Elche on Sunday, while Supercup finalists, Real and Atletico Madrid make their league debuts Monday night.

First Published: Fri, August 22 2014. 18:12 IST