Finally, after two long weeks of international football, La Liga is back at it this weekend.

This start of the season has been a true delight. From big teams struggling to modest teams overachieving, the excitement was in order. Cholo’s one game at a time, one goal per game strategy, Leo Messi’s unfortunate injury, the new red card rule, and already a Basque derby under our belt. All of this justifies the hype around Spanish football returning this weekend.

So, let us see what’s in store for us.

Real Sociedad vs Atlético Madrid

Atléti is currently leading La Liga standings, being the only team to have won its first three games. Led by their new star Joao Felix and the rebirth of Vitolo, the Madrid team managed to pull through some very tricky situations. Winning the first two games by the slightest of margins, the Rojiblancos had to steal the three points out of their last game at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Thomas, with a bit of fortune, completed the come-back from an 0-2 against Eibar at the 91st minute.

This Saturday they will be facing another tough team, in one of the toughest away fixtures for any team in La Liga: Real Sociedad in Anoeta.

Ignacio Aguacil’s very promising young side suffered a huge setback in the last fixture. They lost the Basque derby to a much stronger and experienced Bilbao team. Nonetheless, their start of the season is positive. Currently at the 13th spot on the table, they must seek some more points if they are to dream of European football next season.

Players to keep an eye on during this game

Mikel Oyarzabal (la Real): Scored 13 goals last season, and considered one of the key players of this team

Martin Odegaard (la Real): The 20-year-old loanee from Real Madrid. With already a goal to his name, he is proving to be a solid addition to the team from San Sebastian.

Joao Felix (Atléti): Portuguese revelation, author of a stunning pre-season, he has already scored and assisted this year.

Vitolo (Atléti): Converted to a midfielder by Cholo Simeone, he is having a great start to the season. He netted two goals already and achieved a solid 7,04 rating so far.

Real Madrid vs Levante

What might seem to most as an easy game for Los Blancos, is actually a revenge match for most Real Madrid fans. Indeed, Levante the modest club of the city of Valencia has managed to remain unbeaten by Real Madrid last year winning in the Bernabeu 1-2, and drawing 2-2 on the return leg.

Paco Lopez and his team will try to repeat the same achievement this season as well. They have had more time to prepare for the tie. In the opposite end, Real Madrid’s players were all on international duty.

After a great display in Vigo on what seemed to be a refreshing start, the merengues failed again to win on their own turf. Real Valladolid’s late equalizer saw the home side lose an early two points in the fight for the title. It didn’t go any better for them at “Estadio la Ceramica” in Villareal, as they only managed to salvage a point thanks to a late goal from Gareth Bale. The Welsh reject will miss the next game after seeing a red card.

Zinedine Zidane will count for the first time on his star signing Eden Hazard, who missed the start of la Liga due to injury. Luka Modric will come back to the lineup as well after serving a one-game ban, after his red card in Balaidos.

Levante is off to a great start as well, standing at the 4th place, above Real Madrid.

Players to keep an eye on during this game

Roger (Levante): The 28-year-old forward scored twice already this season.

Eden Hazard (Real Madrid): First official game for Real Madrid.

Barcelona vs Valencia

Probably the biggest game of the weekend. The duels between the two teams have always been thrilling and this season both sides are in a dire need of points.

Valencia’s institutional problems with Peter Lim and his administration are reflected in the performance of the team. In spite of winning their last game against Mallorca, Marcelino’s squad did not start this season the way they ended the last one. Drawing to Sociedad at home, and then losing to Vigo was not very welcomed by the fans. The supporters had to endure as well the strong rumours linking their number 1 striker, Rodrigo Moreno, to Atletico Madrid. The transfer did not make it through the deadline transfer day, and the ‘bats’ got to keep their man.

As for FC Barcelona, this might as well be their worst start of a Liga since before Guardiola. The Catalans lost to Bilbao on their first game thanks to a stunning ‘Chilena’  from the legendary Aduriz.

In the absence of Leo Messi and the unfulfilled Neymar transfer, it was Antoine Griezman who gave them their first win and first points in this campaign. A smashing 5-2 win against Betis brought all the best souvenirs to the Camp Nou. A joy that didn’t last too long.

Osasuna, the recently promoted team of Pamplona, created the surprise by tricking the Blaugranas into a tasteless draw.

Barcelona has the obligation to win and although Valencia are a tough opponent to beat, Barça still has the upper hand in their duels. They have won 14 times and lost only 3, while their games ended in a draw on 8 occasions.

Moreover, the game will also mark the return of Jasper Cillessen to the Camp Nou as the starting goalkeeper of Valencia.

Players to keep an eye on during this game

Goncalo Guedes (Valencia): Great dribbler, quick with a good finish with both legs. 77% successful pass rate this season, with 80% of successful dribbles. He scored for Portugal in their last game against Serbia.

Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia): Stayed at Valencia, and is yet to score this season.

Antoine Grizeman (Barcelona): His last game at Camp Nou was a sensation, scoring two goals and assisting one.

Ansu Fati (Barcelona): The youngest player to score for Barça. Might get some minutes due to Messi’s absence.


In other games this weekend

Sevilla, third, will face Alaves, fifth- a chance to see Chicharito Hernandez. The Mexican and ex-Real Madrid player returned to Spain this summer after signing for the Andalusian team.

Real Betis to face Getafe, and Athletic Bilbao with a visit to Mallorca.

An exciting weekend ahead of us as club football returns.