Marcelo Bielsa’s attack-minded Athletic Bilbao kick-off the new season at home to newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano in what promises to be an intriguing opening game.
Los Leones will be buoyed by the news that they have qualified automatically for the group stages of the Europa League after the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) withdrew Fenerbahce from the Champions League for their involvement in a recent match fixing scandal.
Controversial Coach Bielsa, nicknamed ‘Loco’ will be hoping to finally make an impact on European club football with his unique and innovative tactical ideas. The enigmatic Argentine has been experimenting with several different formations during the Basque side’s pre-season matches.
Cash-strapped Rayo will be hoping to put their recent financial and political woes behind them as they begin their difficult quest for La Liga survival. The Madrid club will be boosted by the arrival on loan of Liverpool’s Dani Pacheco via another loan to city neighbours Atletico Madrid. Pacheco is one of several loan signings and free transfers that the Madrid club has brought in an effort to retain La Liga status beyond this term.
Athletic Bilbao (4-2-3-1): Gorka Iraizoz; Andoni Iraola, Mikel San Jose, Javi Martinez, David Lopez; Carlos Gurpegui, Ander Iturraspe; Igor Gabilondo, Ander Herrera, Iker Muniain; Fernando Llorente
Rayo Vallecano (4-5-1): Cobeno; Tito Roman, Jose Manuel Casado, Alejandro Arribas, Jordi; Jose Movilla, Pedro Botelho, Javi Fuego, Michu, Dani Pacheco; Piti
League form:Athletic Bilbao last five home L-L-W-W-D
Rayo Vallecano last five away W-W-W-D-W
Did you know… Athletic Bilbao are one of only three clubs to have never been relegated from La Liga (the others being Real Madrid and Barcelona)