Barcelona claimed the Primera Division title last season with a huge degree of comfort but will not expect to have things so easy in the 2018-19 campaign.
It begins with a home match against Alaves, a side that was comfortably entrenched in mid-table last time around.
Barca, meanwhile, have started the new season on a positive note, coming from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 in last weekend’s Spanish Super Cup.
The tone has been set for the months ahead, they hope.
|Game||Barcelona vs Alaves|
|Date||Saturday, August 18|
|Time||9:15pm BST / 4:15pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US) the game will be shown live on television on beIN Sports. It can also be streamed live online using the beIN Sports CONNECT service.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports||beIN Sports CONNECT|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be broadcast live on television but it can be streamed via Eleven Sports.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Ter Stegen, Cillessen|
|Defenders||Alba, Semedo, Lenglet, Pique, Marlon, Umtiti, Vermaelen, Miranda|
|Midfielders||Rafinha, Alena, Busquets, Coutinho, Rakitic, Arthur, Roberto, Samper, D. Suarez, Vidal, Puig|
|Forwards||L. Suarez, Messi, Dembele, Alcacer, Munir, Malcom|
Barcelona have few significant headaches in their ranks, with only Denis Suarez and Carles Alena missing out due to injury.
Head coach Ernesto Valderde can, therefore, be expected to name a full-strength side, led by captain Lionel Messi.
Predicted Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Coutinho; Messi, Suarez, Dembele
|Defenders||Ely, Navarro, Laguardia, Maripan, Dieguez, Duarte, Marin, Aguirregabiria, Vigaray|
|Midfielders||Garcia, Torres, Pina, Wakaso|
|Forwards||Jony, Burgui, Gomez, Twumasi, Guidetti, Sobrino, Baston|
Adrian Dieguez misses out for Alaves due to suspension, while fellow defender Rodrigo Ely is injured and will miss the rest of the year.
Midfielder Tomas Pina, a likely starter, is also absent because of physical issues.
Predicted Alaves XI: Pacheco Aguirregabiria, Maripan, Laguardia, Duarte; Twumasi, Manu Garcia, Torres, Ibai Gomez; Sobrino, Baston
Betting & Match Odds
Barcelona are massive favourites to win the game at 1/14, while even a draw is priced 12/1. Alaves, at odds of 24/1, are massive underdogs.
Click here to see all of ‘s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
It’s a new season but the same old ambitions for Barcelona, who are seeking to fight it out for glory both domestically and abroad over the course of the next 10 months.
Like all the top clubs, their preparations for the new season have been disrupted by the World Cup, although they showed in beating Sevilla 2-1 in Tangiers last weekend that they retain the winning instinct that allowed them to navigate the duration of the Primera Division campaign last time around with just one defeat.
Goals from Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele got their season off to a winning start and they are fully expected to maintain that momentum when they play host to Alaves at Camp Nou.
The visitors arrive as lambs to the slaughter, a side who showed they were capable last season but not especially resilient; though they finished 14th in the table, only the bottom two clubs lost more than the 21 games in which they were beaten in.
They made life tricky for Barca when they visited the Catalans in January, threatening to end their hosts’ undefeated run with a John Guedetti goal midway through the first half. Late strikes from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi swung the game in the favour of Ernesto Valverde’s side.
Barca will not want to cut things so fine again.