July 20, 2010

MADRID (Reuters) -- Barcelona will begin its bid for a third consecutive La Liga title at Racing Santander on Aug. 28, the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) said on Tuesday.

Barca's archrival Real Madrid, which finished three points behind the Catalans in second last season, and new coach Jose Mourinho face a potentially tricky trip to Real Mallorca, fifth last campaign and beaten only three times at Ono Estadi.

The opening "Clasico" between Barca and Real will be at Barca's Nou Camp stadium on Nov. 28 and they face each other again at Real's Bernabeu arena on April 17.

The gulf between wealthy Real and Barca, first and second in the latest ranking of the world's richest clubs by accounting firm Deloitte, and their financially struggling La Liga rivals is likely to remain at least as wide in the 2010-11 season.

Valencia, which finished third last campaign, 25 points behind Real and 28 behind Barca, has sold its two best players, striker David Villa joining Barca and midfielder David Silva moving to English club Manchester City.

Barca has also snapped up versatile Brazilian midfielder Adriano Correia from Sevilla, which finished fourth, and is chasing Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, a former Barca youth player.

Real is some way from matching its unprecedented outlay of around $323 million in last year's close season but has strengthened its squad with Argentina winger Angel Di Maria, promising teenage midfielder Sergio Canales and Getafe midfielder Pedro Leon.

Mourinho, who joined Real after leading Inter Milan to a treble of European Champions League and domestic cup and league, is also hoping to bring Inter's Brazilian fullback Maicon to the Spanish capital, according to local media.

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