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Primera predictions: week 1

LaLiga

Primera predictions: week 1

Primera predictions: week 1

GABRIEL BOUYS

AFP

The Oracle is back from the beach and, after consultation with his financial people, in even more dire need than usual of picking the bookies' pockets.

Leganés – Alavés (Friday, 20:15) Prediction: home win

It's probably a bit early to be talking about six pointers but Leganés and Alavés will certainly be in the mix at the wrong end of the table come May. The victor from this one will top the table for a couple of hours but that might be the highlight of what promises to be a long season for both clubs. With Alavés missing key players from last season in Marcos Llorente and Theo Hernández, and adjusting to the methods of new coach Luis Zubeldía, it’s advantage Cucumber Growers in the Liga opener.

Valencia – Las Palmas (Saturday 22:15) Prediction: home win

This will be an interesting one to gauge where both sides stand after different summers. Las Palmas sent Jese packing back to PSG quickly enough but probably didn't foresee Kevin Prince-Boateng scarpering on the eve of the tournament. The loss of Roque Mesa will be keenly felt by Las Palmas, who are also bedding in a new manager in Manolo Márquez. Valencia haven’t done much this summer other than signing Simona Zaza and Fabián Orellana on permanent contracts but the magic of Marcelino might be just what Mestalla needs after a few years of floundering about in LaLiga.

Celta – Real Sociedad (Saturday 18:15) Prediction: draw

Celta have also been quiet in the transfer market but key to Juan Carlos Unzué’s fledgling reign has been keeping the bulk of a squad that achieved great things last season together. Iago Aspas will score goals and Celta remain solid at the back and with plenty of craft and graft in midfield. Sociedad will be pushing for the European places again this season and an opening day game between two well-matched sides could go either way, so we’ll plump for the draw.

Girona – Atlético (Saturday, 20:15) Prediction: draw

Girona will provide an interesting test subject this season. More or less owned by Manchester City, the newly promoted Blanquivermell have taken several of Pep Guardiola's pupils on loan while jettisoning some solid Segunda performers in a bid to stay up. Will that prove a blueprint for survival? Atlético struggled against newly promoted sides last year and have looked toothless in preseason so this may be an opportunity for Girona to make a point if Atlético start slowly again.

Sevilla – Espanyol (Saturday, 22:15) Prediction: home win

Sevilla have had an excellent summer in the transfer market and even though they missed out on former striker Carlos Bacca the additions of Luis Muriel, Simon Kjaer Jesús Navas, Ever Banega and Nolito makes the Rojiblancos a serious proposition this season. Quique Sánchez Flores did well with a limited Espanyol squad last season and the Parakeets will be probably be looking at a similar eighth-place finish in 2017-18. Sevilla will be aiming for third again under Eduardo Berizzo and should get off to a winning start in the Sánchez Pizjuán

Athletic – Getafe (Sunday 18:15) Prediction: home win

There's never a good time to play Athletic but The Lions’ European exertions may level things up a bit for Getafe. However, José Ángel Ziganda’s side showed their mettle in Istanbul and should have far too much quality for a Geta side who have done little in the summer to suggest anything other than a grim old season back in the top flight.

Barcelona – Betis (Sunday 20:15) Prediction: draw

Messidependency briefly threatened to make it into the dictionary, such was the volume of its use a couple of seasons ago. For the visit of Betis Ernesto Valverde’s side will hope the Argentinean dynamo finds his groove with Luis Suárez injured and Neymar having already provided the insult. Barça looked a pale shadow of their former selves across a 5-1 aggregate thumping by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup and the arrival of Paulinho isn't going to turn them back into world beaters overnight. Shinier signings may yet arrive but in the meantime this is a free swing for a Betis side with nothing to lose.

Deportivo – Real Madrid (Sunday, 22:15) Prediction: away win

Real Madrid looked rather frightening in the second leg of the Super Cup, particularly in the opening 20 minutes. Even without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo the visitors are at very short odds indeed to make light work of Depor at Riazor.

Levante – Villarreal (Monday, 20:15) Prediction: away win

Of the three promoted sides Levante look the best equipped to stay up and Villarreal will happily provide an early test of their credentials in an east coast regional derby. The Yellow Submarine will be looking to push into the top four this season and arguably have the strongest squad in the league behind Real, Barça, Atlético and Sevilla and look even better than last season with the addition of Pablo Fornals and Carlos Bacca. Levante on the other hand have lost their two best players from last season, Víctor Camarasa and Deyverson.

Málaga – Eibar (Monday, 22:00) Prediction: away win

Malaga boss Míchel found himself slightly surprised to lose Pablo Fornals and Ignacio Camacho during the summer, deals that the former Spain midfielder said he wasn't aware of, let alone had sanctioned. A quick word with any of Málaga’s previous managers would have informed him. Not since Manuel Pellegrini led an unlikely charge to the latter stages of the Champions League in 2012-13 has there been any serious squad investment and the magic dust Míchel sprinkled on the La Rosaleda turf last season may well be past its sell by date. Eibar certainly have the ability to inflict defeat here with the honeymoon period for Málaga and Míchel looking like turning sour very quickly this season.

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