Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde defiant after terror attacks in city


With the La Liga season openers almost upon us, it's time to open up the crystal ball, gaze longingly into its depths, and forecast the season to come.

Zidane reiterated his faith in the Welshman before selecting him for the first leg, but now Bale would seem to have a fresh problem on his hands in the shape of Marco Asensio.

Ronaldo played only 24 of 180 minutes of Real's resounding 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

"I give us a 7/10 because we're at 70 percent of where we should be", he said after a pre-season defeat to Southampton earlier this month.

Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are talented players but they will struggle to match Neymar's impact, at least initially.

The youngsters' interchanging between the flanks, with speedy aid from Marcelo and Dani Carvajal, caused confusion and clumsiness among Barça's generally-aging defence, who will need more than the youthful injection of Samuel Umtiti, beaten for pace throughout, and Nelson Semedo, who came on after 50 minutes for a jeered, injured Gerard Pique, to cure their defensive ills.

Exhausted of reading? Click through the gallery above to see 10 players who snubbed Barca to join rivals Real!

The summer has proven to be a tough ask already for Valverde, but the quality still available in Barca's ranks suggests that the coach has plenty at his disposal in order to get things right this term.

After 17 trips to Riazor in La Liga without a win between 1992 and 2008 (drawing five and losing 12), Real Madrid have won five of their last six (and drew the other). "We're always be making changes to the line-up", he said. I remember that Neymar was suspended for that match. His combination of pace, power and skill, accompanied by his left foot, makes him one of the most risky players alive.

As Madrid has gotten stronger, its challengers have gotten weaker. (This is) not the way to express yourself and even less so from inside the club, singling out a player'.

Real striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sent off in Monday's Supercopa first leg at the Nou Camp, added on Twitter: "Dismayed at the news coming from Barcelona".

Barcelona players will also wear black armbands and shirts with "Barcelona" replacing individual names on the back when they host Real Betis on Sunday. "We have to focus on the league ahead and keep going forward because that's all we have". Forwards Manuel "Nolito" Agudo and homegrown fan favorite Jesus Navas have arrived from Manchester City, but Spain forward Victor "Vitolo" Machin will play at Las Palmas before he joins Atletico in 2018. Coach Ernesto Valverde said he is looking to lift the team's mood as the league campaign starts.

Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao, two Basque Country clubs, should again challenge for fifth- and sixth-place finishes and a Europa League spot, while Valencia hopes to end years of mediocrity under new coach Marcelino Garcia.

Ever Banega is back, signed from Inter Milan, but Berizzo admits the team remains a work in progress.