SERIE A - JUVENTUS V CAGLIARI: Live on beIN SPORTS at 12:00PM / 9:00AM
A nervous Juventus kicks off best ever Serie A season
Usually the summer transfer market is chock-a-block with preposterous rumors which never come off. Not this year. No sir.
Neymar went to PSG and Leonardo Bonucci, the supposedly, untouchable talismanic leader of Juventus, jumped ship from one of Europe's powerhouses to Milan, a club in recent years who are to success what Anthony Scaramucci is to job tenure.
But that sums up an odd summer for Juve with our Tancredi Palmeri noting that the Champions League final thrashing by Real Madrid, really shook the confidence of the club. Dani Alves has gone to PSG, but the midfield has been given a major boost with the additions of Douglas Costa from Bayern Munich and Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina.
Despite the strength in depths of Italy's top five teams this season after some heavy investment by the Milan teams especially, the Scudetto is still Juve's to lose. But as the summer showed, what was up is now very much down in football, meaning that a convincing home opener against Cagliari is a must for Max Allegri's men in what could be a truly vintage Serie A campaign if all the big protagonists can get it together.
LA LIGA - BARCELONA V BETIS: Live on beIN SPORTS from 2PM ET / 11AM PT
Barcelona face unhappy homecoming against battling Betis
Not even Barca's chirpy anthem is going to raise the spirits of the Camp Nou massive on Sunday as the team takes on Betis in the first match of La Liga. Even Gerard Pique, the biggest of all Barca cheerleaders admits that the team is way behind Real Madrid these days.
The arrival of Paulinho from the Chinese Super League on Thursday does not seem to have turned frowns upside down. Except the frown belonging to the Brazilian midfielder himself who probably can't believe his luck as he waved at the few spectators there to welcome him.
Barcelona are facing a renewed assault on La Liga not just with Neymar absent - went to PSG apparently - but also with Luis Suarez who is out of action for a month with Super Cup knee-knack. This could see a forward line of MAD - Leo Messi, Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu taking to the field against their Andalusian opponents.
Visitors, Betis, may have lost Dani Ceballos to the Real Madrid bench to occupy the James spot, but Andres Guardado has come in along with the hotshot Osasuna striker, Sergio Leon, who scored 10 goals for a quite terrible team last season.
A tough week on the field for Barcelona could be made a lot more troubling.
LA LIGA - DEPORTIVO V REAL MADRID: Live on beIN SPORTS from 4:15PM ET / 11:15AM PT
Deportivo face dose of Real Madrid attacking mayhem
Deportivo used to be a bit of a choke-point for Real Madrid who spent nearly 20 years failing to beat the side from the north of Spain in La Riazor. A bit of magic from Guti took care of that in 2010 and since that point life has been fairly comfortable for the visitors from Madrid - a bit too comfortable perhaps with Depor conceding 20 goals in the team's last four visits to Galicia.
Even with a Cristiano Ronaldo sidelined with injury, a similar result could well be on the cards for a Real Madrid side very much boosted by a double Spanish Super Cup win against Barcelona. Deportivo are a side built for a relegation battle unfortunately and are not even able to field their most promising player, Fede Valverde, on the grounds that the Uruguayan midfielder is on loan from Real Madrid.
Long term, Deportivo might be able to bring back Lucas Perez who flopped and then some at Arsenal to boost the forward line, but it will be too late for Sunday's season starter.