Despite the move to an "away" venue for the match against a side who managed only 12 wins last season, Atletico's Serbian coach, Radomir Antic, was exuding his usual air of confidence: "My team's ready for the league," he said after Atletico's impressive showing in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup last Wednesday. Atletico won 3-1 but lost the Cup after a 5- 2 defeat at the hands of Bobby Robson's Barcelona in a first leg dominated by the new signings Ronaldo and Giovanni.
The Brazilian strikers will be back from international duty for Barcelona's away game at Real Oviedo which means that the Bulgarian striker Hristo Stoichkov may find himself dropped from the starting line-up after a poor game last Wednesday.
Another manager wondering who to leave out is the former Milan coach Fabio Capello, who has been given the job of picking up the pieces after Real Madrid's poor campaign last year. Capello has 4 billion pesetas (pounds 22m) of new talent to choose from, but his selection dilemma is eased by minor injuries to the forward Jose Amavisca and the veteran defender Manolo Sanchis for the match at Deportivo La Coruna.
Real have not won at Deportivo for five years and their task has not been made any easier this season by Deportivo picking up the formidable French duo Michael Madar and Corentine Martins as part of Spain's 25 billion pesetas (pounds 130m) close-season transfer jamboree.
Further afield, two British-based players, West Brom's Paul Peschisolido and Plymouth's Carlo Corazzin, were on target as Canada beat Panama 3- 1 in a World Cup qualifier in Edmonton on Friday. The Ipswich goalkeeper, Craig Forrest, and his former team-mate Frank Yallop also played.
Also in form were the United States who beat El Salvador 3-1 in a friendly in Los Angeles. Max Moore, who plays for the US Major League Soccer's New England Revolution, scored twice with the American career-leading scorer, Eric Wynalda, grabbing the other.
Uefa came down heavily on the Belgian club Standard Liege on Friday for "disgraceful behaviour" in an Intertoto final match against Karlsruhe. The Belgian club were fined 25,000 Swiss francs (pounds 9,000) for unsporting conduct and their captain Guy Hellers was banned for seven games. He was sent off for insulting the referee and then urged team-mates to protest.
Roberto Bisconti will be sidelined for six European ties after pushing the referee as he protested about a Karlsruhe goal, while Didier Ernst was banned for four matches for a verbal attack soon after Bisconti was dismissed. Karlsruhe took the Uefa Cup space on offer after winning the tie 3-2 on aggregate.Reuse content