Barcelona start at Malaga
Barcelona face a testing start to the defence of their Primera Division crown after being paired away to big-spending Malaga on the opening weekend, it was announced today.
Malaga finished just three points above the relegation zone last term, but the Andalusian side have been busy building a squad that should be challenging for European places next season.
The club have already brought in eight new faces, including Ruud van Nistelrooy, Joaquin Sanchez, Jeremy Toulalan and Diego Buonanotte, and they will be keen to send out a statement of intent when they host three-time reigning Spanish champions Barca on the weekend of 20-21 August.
That is not the only interesting match for the opening round of fixtures, either. Segunda Division champions Real Betis play host to bitter city rivals Sevilla while Real Madrid are at home to Athletic Bilbao - two of the three clubs never to have been outside the top flight along with Barca.
Real finished second to Barça last season but have been busy strengthening this summer, with yesterday's €30m signing Fabio Coentrao joining Nuri Sahin, Hamit Altintop, Jose Maria Callejon and Raphael Varane as new faces in Jose Mourinho's squad.
The other two promoted teams, Rayo Vallecano and Granada, face Real Mallorca and Espanyol, respectively.
The remaining first-round fixtures are Osasuna-Valencia, Real Sociedad-Atletico Madrid, Villarreal-Sporting Gijon, Racing Santander-Getafe and Levante-Real Zaragoza. The season is scheduled to end on 12/13 May.
Meanwhile, the first Clasico of the league campaign between Madrid and Barça is scheduled to take place at the Bernabeu on the weekend of 10/11 December with the return at the Nou Camp being played on April 21/22.