Late night Liga
01 Sep 2003
While most players will be tucked up in bed in the early hours of Wednesday morning, those from Barcelona and Sevilla will be playing their second match of the Spanish season.
The game will also mark the home league debut of the club's 30 million euro ($32.95 million) signing Ronaldinho.
The Brazilian, who misses his country's opening World Cup qualifier against Colombia because of suspension, was outstanding in the club's pre-season fixtures.
The 23-year-old also showed sparks of his creative brilliance in Barca's 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on the opening day of the season, but he is still adjusting to his new side and will be hoping for a more decisive performance.
Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard may choose to push him into a more advanced position in the absence of his two regular strikers.
Dutchman Patrick Kluivert is serving the second of a two-match suspension held over from last season, while Javier Saviola has been called up to play for Argentina.
Sevilla will be hoping that their new Brazilian signing Baptista can continue his fine start to the season after he struck a spectacular winner against Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
VILLARREAL (14) v REAL MADRID (3)
Although all the attention has been on new boy David Beckham and his dream start at the Bernabeu, Real have yet to fire on all cylinders.
The champions had to rely on the individual brilliance of Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo for their 2-1 victory over Betis on Saturday and they are certain to miss the presence of Chelsea-bound midfielder Claude Makelele.
Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso are all away on international duty and Real could find themselves stretched at the back by a well-organised Villarreal side.
Real Madrid´s coach has only 15 players available ahead of their trip to Villarreal. Makele, Morientes and McManaman have left the club, Guti is unjured and Cambiasso, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos are away on international duty. They won their opener 2-1 against Betis, but they are still below their best. They have so many world class players in their squad that they are still able to win at Villarreal, but they are by no means odds-on shots and I try a bet on the hosts not to lose. Villarreal qualified for the UEFA-Cup by winning the Intertoto final and they are already well prepared for the season having played several official matches. They held Malaga to a soreless draw in the first round and new signing Riquelme is supposed to make his debut here. Anderson is still out and Coloccini misses due to suspension. The weakened Real side can be opposed here with a medium stake.
Villarreal: Reina, Javi Venta, Ballesteros, Quique Alvarez, Arruabarrena; Guayre, Pedro Martí, Riquelme, Roger; Víctor y José Mari.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Salgado, Helguera, Pavón, Raúl Bravo; Beckham, Solari, Zidane, Figo; Raúl y Portillo.
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OSASUNA (1) v VALENCIA (11)
Argentine playmaker Pablo Aimar, who scored a fine solo equaliser against Valladolid, and compatriot Roberto Ayala will be missing from the Valencia line-up on international duty.
Rafa Benitez's side may find themselves up against it as they take on the gritty Navarrans, who top the fledgling table thanks to their 2-0 win over Albacete at the weekend.
Osasuna: Sanzol; Izquierdo, Cruchaga, Josetxo, Antonio López; Puñal, Pablo García; Rivero, Valdo, Moha; y Aloisi.
Valencia: Cañizares, Garrido, Marchena, Pellegrino, Carboni; Jorge López, Albelda, Baraja, Vicente; Mista y Oliveira.
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REAL SOCIEDAD (10) v CELTA VIGO (7)
Last season's runners-up Sociedad got off to a steady start with a 1-1 draw away to Espanyol, but will be looking for some better finishing when they make their home debut.
New signing Lee Chun-soo turned in a sparky performance on Saturday and looks to be a useful addition to the squad, but Celta will be a hard nut to crack especially after they let slip two points with their 1-1 draw at home to Murcia.
Real Sociedad: Westerveld; López Rekarte, Schürrer, Jauregi, Boris; Xabi Alonso, Aranburu, Karpin, De Pedro; Kovacevic y Lee.
Celta: Pinto, Velasco, Cáceres, Sergio, Sylvinho, Angel, Luccin, Vagner, Jandro, Edu y Milosevic
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ATLETICO MADRID (1 v ALBACETE (20)
For all the talk of a revival at Atletico, Gregorio Manzano's side will have to produce a much-improved performance after a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Sevilla.
Newly promoted Albacete got off to an ominous start with a home defeat against Osasuna and will be anxious to put on a better show at the Calderon.
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REAL BETIS (15) v ESPANYOL (
Although they played some attractive football in their 2-1 defeat at Real, Betis will need to find a harder edge to their game.
New signing Martin Palermo had a good game at the Bernabeu, but he will be hoping for more luck in front of goal against Javier Clemente's well-drilled Espanyol.
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DEPORTIVO CORUNA (5) v ATHLETIC BILBAO (17)
Depor claimed a narrow 1-0 win against Zaragoza thanks to a trademark header from substitute Walter Pandiani, who will hope to have done enough to have earned a start against Bilbao.
The Basque side were unlucky to slip to a 1-0 defeat at home to Barca given the number of scoring chances they created.
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VALLADOLID (12) v MALAGA (13)
Valladolid goalkeeper Albano Bizarri produced a brilliant display to earn his side a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Saturday, but the Argentine should not find himself under so much pressure against Malaga.
After losing creative midfielder Kizito Musampa and strike duo Dely Valdes and Dario Silva in the close season, the Andalucians lack any real sting up front.
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REAL MALLORCA (16) v REAL ZARAGOZA (19)
Like Malaga, Mallorca have been severely weakened through the sale of departure of key players.
Striker Samuel Eto'o was isolated in the 2-1 defeat at Racing Santander and the islanders will need to work out a way of getting the ball to him if they want to claim their first win against newly promoted Zaragoza, who gave a good account of themselves in their 1-0 defeat against Depor.
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MURCIA (9) v RACING SANTANDER (2)
Last season's second division champions Murcia made an encouraging start to life in the top flight as they came away with a 1-1 draw from their match at Celta on Sunday.
Opponents Racing also claimed a useful three points with an excellent win over Mallorca.
Villareal without the suspended Coloccini and the Brsilian right midfielder Belleti, and still without Sonni Anderson.
Real Madrid without Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Cambiasso.
Real Sociedad without Nihat and Aranazabal.
Celta without Mostovoi and gk Cavallero.
Osasuna with same squad as Saturday.
Valencia without Aimar and Ayala!
barcelona without rustu, saviola, kluivert, van bronckhorst, Reiziger, cocu, overmas
Barcelona: Valdés; Puyol, Márquez, Andersson, Oscar López; Xavi, Gerard; Quaresma, Ronaldinho, Inesta; y Luis Enrique.
Sevilla: Notario, Daniel, Javi Navarro, Pablo Alfaro, David; Gallardo, Baptista, Casquero, Martí o Marcos Vales; Reyes y Darío Silva.
(Spanish soccer, marca)