The La Liga season is set to return this weekend, with reigning champions Barcelona taking on Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames.
However, rivals? Real Madrid and ?Atletico Madrid will be looking to pip Barca to the title this year and in order to do that, they will need to get off to a flying start against Celta Vigo and Getafe respectively.
Football fans everywhere will be hoping for a couple of opening gameweek crackers, but what are some of the best La Liga games to be played on the opening weekend in the 21st century? Let’s have a look below.
Celta Vigo 2-3 Barcelona – 2006/07
Opening day fixtures don’t get much harder than ?Barcelona, but Celta Vigo came agonisingly close to a result against the then European champions.
Celta led in the first half, but were pegged back with a quick Eto’o and ?Messi double. However, they fired straight back and looked on course to take a point to open up their campaign.
Enter Eidur Gudjohnsen. The Icelandic scored with two minutes of normal time to play to steal the win and give Barca a thrilling opening day victory.
Valencia 4-3 Racing Santander – 2011/12
Roberto Soldado stole the show on an absolutely jaw-dropping fixture to start the La Liga season. The Spanish marksman scored inside the opening minute, but Racing replied with two goals in the next 13 minutes – including an own goal from Soldado, would you believe it.
Racing scored again in the 54th minute to take a 3-1 lead, but an instant reply from Adil Rami a minute later made it 3-2.
With two minutes left on the clock, Racing were seemingly confident of picking up at least one point, but Soldado had other ideas. Two quick fire goals from the striker in the 88th and 90th minute broke Racing hearts, and capped off an unbelievable game and performance from Roberto Soldado.
Athletic Bilbao 3-5 Real Betis – 2012/13
Real Betis came out on top in a scintillating game which saw them squander a three goal lead but still, somehow, collect all three points.
Betis started the game like a house on fire and led at half time by three goals to nil, with Benat scoring the pick of the goals – a long range screamer. However, Athletic Bilbao came out all guns blazing in the second half to claw the game back to 3-3 with 15 minutes left.
Bilbao’s hard work was all for nothing though, and they couldn’t cope with some slick football from Betis, resulting in goals from Pozuelo and a second for Molina.
Barcelona 7-0 Levante – 2013/14
Barcelona got the 2013/14 season off to a spectacular start, with a truly thumping display against Levante.
The reigning champions were magnificent, putting down a marker that has rarely been seen on an opening weekend in any league ever since. Barca were six goals up at half time after goals were scored by Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi, Dani Alves, Pedro and Xavi.
It looked like it could have been double figures by the end of the match, but they took their foot off the gas for the remaining 45 minutes. That wasn’t to stop Pedro doubling his goal tally for the day however, as he rounded off the scoring with a seventh.
Sevilla 6-4 Espanyol – 2016/17
Not just one of the best opening matches seen in La Liga, Sevilla vs Espanyol in 2016 had arguably the most exciting half of football in La Liga history.
The score was 3-3 at half time, with goals rattling in without a chance to blink. However, in the second half, Sevilla put their foot down on the contest.
Three goals in 20 minutes from Franco Vazquez, Wissam Ben Yedder and Hirochi Kiyotake took the game away from Espanyol. 6-4 the game finished – a match that La Liga will never forget.