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Barcelona opens title defense with draw at Getafe

2023 Aug 14, 8:13, MADRID
Source: AP

There was a lot of complaining but no celebrating for Barcelona as it began the defense of its Spanish league title on Sunday.

Barcelona couldn’t overcome Raphinha’s first-half red card for elbowing an opponent, and then didn’t get a VAR decision to go its way late in the game, in a 0-0 draw at Getafe in their league opener.

“If this is the product that the Spanish league wants to sell, then it’s an embarrassment,” said Barcelona coach Xavi, who himself was sent off in the 70th for arguing with officials over a foul not being called.

Raphinha was sent off after hitting Getafe defender Gastón Álvarez on the head with his right elbow while fighting for position in attack in the 42nd minute. Barcelona played a man down until Getafe had Jaime Mata sent off with a second yellow card for a foul on Ronald Araujo in the 57th.

Barcelona had more reason to complain when it thought it had a penalty kick after Araujo was fouled inside the area nearly 10 minutes into stoppage time, but video review determined that there was a handball by Barcelona midfielder Gavi in the buildup.

“That handball didn’t exist,” Xavi said. “They had said that only the very clear handballs would be called, and that’s not what happened. It was very unfair.”

The match marked the debut of new Barcelona midfielder Ilkay Gundogan after his move from Manchester City in the offseason.

Real Madrid won 2-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, while Atletico Madrid starts its campaign against Granada on Monday.


Rafa Benítez’s stint with Celta Vigo began with a 2-0 home loss to Osasuna.

Celta conceded a goal in each half to make it a losing debut for the veteran coach after taking over the squad in the offseason.

Celta had only one attempt on target at Balaídos stadium in Vigo. Rubén García and Moi Goméz scored for Osasuna, which finished seventh last season and earned a spot in the Europa Conference League.

“When you face a team that qualified to a European competition and has kept the core of its squad, you noticed that we are still missing a few things,” Benítez said. “We will try to make up for that with hard work and, if possible, by adding to the squad through transfers.”

Benítez last coached Everton in England and previously was at the helm of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli. He won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005.

Benítez had a stint in China before taking over Everton and after coaching Newcastle. He took over a Celta team that finished 13th last season in the Spanish league.


Substitute Willian José scored five minutes into stoppage time as Real Betis beat Villarreal 2-1 in a matchup of two teams that narrowly missed out on a Champions League berth last season and are aiming to repeat their strong campaigns.

Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis opened the scoring with a goal from Ayoze Pérez in the 20th before the hosts equalized with Jorge Cuenca in the 61st. José’s late winner came with a header from the middle of the area.

Former Madrid player Isco made his debut with Betis.


Barcelona Spanish league title Raphinha Getafe Gastón Álvarez xavi ilkay gundogan Real Madrid Manchester City Champions League
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