Messi, Ronaldo back as La Liga kicks off

2012-08-17 13:48

Madrid – The Spanish league season kicks off this weekend with Barcelona star Lionel Messi insisting it is not just a battle between himself and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“With Cristiano I have absolutely no problem. All that is said about us is to do with the press who want us to have our own personal battle, but I have never competed with him or fought him,” said the 25 year-old current holder of the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

“I just try to do my job in the best way possible to win trophies for my national team and Barcelona”, he continued after scoring in Argentina’s 3-1 win over Germany on Wednesday night.

The two players were neck-and-neck in the goalscoring charts last season, with the Argentinian hitting 50 in the league compared to Ronaldo’s 46, with an incredible 73 in all competitions for Messi and 60 for the Madrid star.

Madrid finished the season nine points clear of a Barca side that still managed to lift four titles in what was to be Pep Guardiola’s last season of a hugely successful time for the Catalans.

The two giants kick off the new campaign on Sunday with home games against Valencia and Real Sociedad, with one eye on their two-legged Spanish Super Cup encounter over the next two weeks.

The first leg is in the Camp Nou next Thursday before the return game in Madrid 6 days later.

Barca begin a new era under Tito Vilanova, Pep Guardiola’s assistant for four seasons, with virtually the same squad as last term.

Spain left-back Jordi Alba is until now the only arrival from Valencia but more may follow.

Barca’s Brazilian defender Adriano has seen little change so far under the new coach.

“Training is the same as we had with Pep and the philosophy is the same, there won’t be too many changes,” he said.

“Those who think this league is only about two sides are wrong, there are always surprise teams, we have to keep up our own high standards and win what we could not win last season.”

Carles Puyol is available for Sunday after a knee injury that kept him out of Euro 2012 and David Villa is almost back from the fractured tibia that saw him sit out most of last season, but he is not expected to be pushed into action immediately.

Madrid have also changed very little a team that brought to an end Guardiola’s three consecutive titles with a record 100 points and 121 goals.

Ronaldo will be backed once again by Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain to provide the firepower for Jose Mourinho’s team.

Valencia, however, ended last season third for the third successive year and will provide a severe test in Madrid’s opening defence of the title.

New coach Mauricio Pellegrino will be able to choose from four new signings, including Mexican Andres Guardado and former Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago.

Forward Roberto Soldado, the highest-scoring Spaniard with 17 goals last season, should shake off a niggling injury in time.

Also on Sunday, Europa League winners Atletico Madrid start their campaign at last season’s surprise package Levante, with a growing injury list ahead of next week’s UEFA Super Cup tie with Chelsea.

Belgian goalkeeper Thibaud Courtois returned with damaged ribs from international duty and is a doubt, while international full-back Juan Francisco Torres – “Juanfran” – twisted a knee in Spain’s game in Puerto Rico and is definitely out.

Adrian, Felipe Luis and Diego Costa are also doubtful Atletico.

Athletic Bilbao’s build-up to their home game with Betis has not been ideal after a week in which they have come close to losing two star players in Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez.

First, forward Llorente announced his decision not to sign a contract extension before it was revealed Bayern Munich were willing to pay the 40 million euros ($49 million, £31 million) required to free Martinez from the Basque side.

Both players trained on their own yesterday and if they are still at the club by the weekend it is unlikely they will feature.

Aritz Aduriz’s return to Bilbao from Valencia will do little to appease home fans who will be sure to be vocal.

This weekend’s matches:
Tomorrow
Celta Vigo v Malaga, Sevilla v Getafe , Mallorca v Espanyol

Sunday
Real Madrid v Valencia, Athletic Bilbao v Betis, Barcelona v Real Sociedad, Levante v Atletico Madrid

Monday
Deportivo v Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano v Granada, Zaragoza v Valladolid

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.