Tue, 27 Oct 2020

MADRID, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Matchday 3 of La Liga sees FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Elche play their first games of the season, while Real Madrid has another difficult away game. Here are some things to look out for in Spain this weekend.

1. Koeman's Barcelona debut at home to Villarreal

It has been such a complicated summer for FC Barcelona that it is almost hard to know where to begin. Ronald Koeman takes over a side that is now without Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez, who joined Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night. Lionel Messi will clearly be the focus of attention after his summer request to leave the club, but Antoine Griezmann has to step up after Suarez's departure and Frenkie de Jong has to do the same in a side now without Vidal and Rakitic.

Philippe Coutinho also has a lot to prove after his loan spell at Bayern, while questions remain over what style of play Koeman will look to impose.

And all of this against a rival that in Gerard Moreno and Paco Alcacer has two of the best strikers in La Liga. Will it be a happy start for Koeman, or will he face problems from the very start?

2. Another tough game for Real Madrid

Real Madrid controlled most of the ball in its league debut away to Real Sociedad a week ago, but failed to create enough chances to win the game, raising questions about what was also the club's main problem last season.

Opponent Real Betis has started the campaign well under Manuel Pellegrini and the former Real Madrid coach looks to have added steel to a side which flattered to deceive last season.

Zidane has a doubt over Martin Odegaard after confusion surrounding a COVID-19 test, but the coach's main problem will be how to get the best out of an attack likely to still be without Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio, who are struggling with fitness issues.

Madrid is likely to control most of the game, but Zidane needs wide forwards Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr to turn control into goals.

3. Difficult debut for Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid's pre-season hasn't been a bed of roses with coach Diego Simeone testing positive for COVID-19 and central defender Jose Gimenez also returning a positive test at the start of the week to complicate preparations for their league debut at home to an impressive Granada.

Atletico got a huge boost with Suarez's arrival this week, but the Uruguayan won't be fit to start on Sunday, while Alvaro Morata has now left to join Juventus.

Granada has won all four of its competitive matches this season and has a lot in common with Atletico in that they combine tough defensive organization with a high rate of effectiveness from set pieces. If Atletico is below its best, it could start by dropping points.

4. Early crisis in the Basque Country?

Eibar has started the campaign with two defeats, while Athletic Bilbao lost in Granada on the opening day of the season. However, with fans unhappy at Athletic's disappointing end to last campaign, question marks over coach Gaizka Garitano's defensive instincts and a lack of goals in attack, a defeat in the Ipurua Stadium would only increase the discontent surrounding a club that has so far failed to make any summer signings.

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