Preview: Barcelona hosts Cadiz in 1st game at temporary home stadium, Madrid visits Almeria

AP , Friday 18 Aug 2023

After having both its coach and best winger sent off last week, Barcelona will try to jump start its Spanish season on Sunday at home.

Barcelona s
Barcelona s Gavi, centre, controls the ball during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Getafe and FC Barcelona at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium in Getafe, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023. AP


Except home isn't what it used to be.

Barcelona will play its first official game in its temporary home against Cadiz while Camp Nou undergoes an extensive makeover, and coach Xavi Hernández will be watching from the stands.

Xavi was sent off for excessively complaining about the decisions of the referee during his team’s 0-0 draw at Getafe in their season opener last week. The former midfielder was handed a two-game suspension for his behavior.

The hosts will also be missing forward Raphinha, who earned a red card against Getafe when he elbowed an opposing player. That leaves Barcelona without a pure winger, after Ousmane Dembélé left for Paris Saint-Germain in the offseason. The empty spot in the starting lineup could be filled by forwards Ferran Torres or Ansu Fati, or another midfielder like Gavi Páez. Former Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan debuted for Barcelona in the opening match.

Barcelona wants to avoid another slip after both Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid won their openers. Cadiz barely avoided relegation last season and is considered among the most modest of the teams in the top division. It beat Alaves 1-0 in its opener.

This will be the first competitive match that Barcelona plays at Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium. The main stadium for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics can hold 49,000 people — compared to the 99,000-strong Camp Nou, Europe’s largest soccer stadium. Camp Nou is undergoing a long-delayed overhaul to improve its facilities and add even more seats.

Two for two

Madrid will go for a second victory to start the season when it plays at Almeria on Saturday.

It will do so without central defender Éder Militão after he tore a ligament in his left knee during the 2-0 win at Athletic Bilbao. England midfielder Jude Bellingham had an excellent debut for Madrid, impressing with his dribbling skills and scoring his team’s second goal.

The injury to Militão came days after Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois also tore a knee ligament. Andriy Lunin, Courtois’ backup, started against Bilbao, and Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has said that Lunin would be his first-choice goalkeeper. But the club signed Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan from Chelsea this week.

Almeria lost its opener 2-0 to Rayo Vallecano.

Atletico at Betis

Atletico visits Real Betis on Sunday in the top matchup of the weekend after they finished third and sixth, respectively, in the standings last season.

Atletico eased to a 3-1 victory over Granada at home thanks to goals from Memphis Depay, Álvaro Morata and Marcos Llorente in its opener.

Also, Sevilla is at promoted Alaves on Monday seeking to bounce back from back-to-back losses to start the season, including a defeat to Manchester City in a penalty shootout in the UEFA Super Cup.

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