MADRID, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) — Real Madrid is set for their home debut, while FC Barcelona faces a potential defensive challenge in La Liga’s fourth round this weekend, preceding the season’s first international break.
Friday features two matches: Villarreal heads to Cadiz, and Celta Vigo travels to Almeria, who recently secured a point with a 95th-minute goal against Cadiz. Celta, having garnered only one point from their initial three matches, narrowly lost 1-0 to Real Madrid last weekend.
Jude Bellingham, who netted that goal for Madrid, is slated to play his inaugural match at the Bernabeu on Saturday when Real Madrid hosts Getafe in their newly renovated stadium. Bellingham’s presence could be pivotal for Carlo Ancelotti’s squad, especially with Vinicius Jr sidelined due to a hamstring injury. This leaves Rodrygo and Joselu as the primary forwards. Additionally, Eder Militao and Thibaut Courtois are out for the season with significant knee injuries.
Kieren Tierney, a recent acquisition, might debut as Real Sociedad faces Granada. Concurrently, Diego Rico and Robert Navarro appear to be departing the San Sebastian club before the transfer window closes.
Alaves’ newcomers, Ianis Hagi and Samu Omorodion, are available for their match against Valencia, who saw their winning streak halted by Osasuna. Valencia’s central defender, Gabriel Paulista, sustained an injury midweek and is ruled out for the upcoming game.
Rayo Vallecano’s impeccable record was shattered after a 7-0 home defeat to Atletico Madrid. Coach Francisco Rodriguez now faces the challenge of rejuvenating his team’s spirit for their challenging match against Betis. Despite Betis’ 4-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao, Isco’s performance indicates a return to form. Rodri, Ayoze Perez, and Aitor Ruibal add speed to Betis’ offensive lineup.
Girona, currently third in La Liga, has a favorable matchup against newly-promoted Las Palmas. Meanwhile, Athletic Club, after back-to-back victories, will challenge Mallorca. Mallorca’s defense needs to be cautious of Nico and Inaki Williams, who pose threats from the wings. Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta revisits the island where he enjoyed two prosperous seasons before rejoining his original club this summer.
Sevilla’s coach, Jose Luis Mendilibar, confronts a daunting task against Atletico Madrid on Sunday, given Sevilla’s unprecedented three consecutive losses to start the season. Mendilibar’s challenges have been compounded by a lack of new signings and a growing injury list. Jesus Navas remains questionable for Sunday’s match against an in-form Atletico, who recently dominated Rayo Vallecano.
Memphis Depay won’t be playing for Atletico, but with Alvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann performing well, Atletico is favored to compound Sevilla’s woes.
The round concludes with Barcelona’s trip to Osasuna, who have a Conference League qualifying match against Club Brugge on Thursday. While Barcelona showcased offensive prowess in their 4-3 victory over Villarreal, their defense was lacking. All eyes will be on 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal, but Barca’s coach, Xavi Hernandez, must prioritize defense, especially with Ronald Araujo, Inigo Martinez, and Pedri unavailable. ■