Espanyol – Deportivo (Friday 20.45) Prediction: home win
Quique Sánchez Flores’ side had been on a decent run until they ran into an inspired Barcelona in the derby last time out, wining four of six and unbeaten since September. The loss of Diego López is a significant one for Espanyol but Depor have yet to win a game on the road this season and have taken only three points from eight fixtures outside Riazor.
Real Madrid – Granada (Saturday 13.00) Prediction: home win
Zinedine Zidane stands on the cusp of equalling the 39-match unbeaten record set by Luis Enrique’s Barcelona and Granada have been woeful away from home this season, failing to win a single game while scoring eight and conceding 23. A fully rested Cristiano Ronaldo will fancy his chances of filling his boots against the second-worst defence in the division and it will be nothing short of a miracle if Granada emerge with anything positive from the Bernabéu.
Eibar – Atlético (Saturday 16.15) Prediction: draw
Atlético have been far from their defensive best this season and have been beaten in four of their last eight Liga outings, shipping nine goals in the process. Antoine Griezmann has forgotten where the goal is and hasn’t found the back of the net since the beginning of October while joint-top scorer Yannick Carrasco is injured. Eibar have been beaten every time the sides have met since their ascension to Primera but are more than capable of frustrating Diego Simeone’s side in Ipurua.
Las Palmas – Sporting (Saturday 18.30) Prediction: home win
Las Palmas have dropped off alarmingly after winning three of their opening four games, tasting victory just twice since mid-September. Sporting through are in dreadful shape and a walkover away from home having picked up just two points with six goals scored on their travels this season. Quique Setién will recognize this as a game that his side have to win to put some gloss on their top 10 status and Las Palmas will do just that.
Real Sociedad – Sevilla (Saturday 20.45) Prediction: home win
Sevilla will be smarting from a humbling 3-0 defeat at the Bernabéu in the Copa after a glorious start to the season that sees Jorge Sampaoli’s side sitting a point behind Barcelona in third. Real Sociedad also have designs on Europe and are in fifth, a point ahead of Atlético. If Eusebio’s side are to grace the European stage again this is the kind of game they will need to gain points from. La Real are unbeaten at home since the opening day of the season and have won five of their last six, their only dropped points in Anoeta coming in a 1-1 draw with Barcelona.
Athletic – Alavés (Sunday 12.00) Prediction: home win
A Basque derby is the aperitif on Sunday and Athletic will be in buoyant mood after again getting the better of Barça in a cup competition. Alavés have picked up more points on the road than at home this season but Athletic sit joint-third in the home form table with six wins from eight in San Mamés and they should prove too strong for the visitors.
Betis – Leganés (Sunday 16.15) Prediction: home win
Both Betis and Leganés are both struggling but the home side has been much improved under Víctor Sánchez and remain unbeaten at the Villamarín since the Spaniard succeeded Gus Poyet. Leganés’ away form was eye-catching at the start of the season but the Cucumber Growers have lost three of their last four on the road and shipped 11 goals in the process.
Celta – Málaga (Sunday 18.30) Prediction: home win
Málaga were dealt a blow when Juande Ramos unexpectedly handed in his notice during the winter break but decided perhaps wisely given the dearth of decent substitutes available to promote Marcelo ‘Gato’ Romero from assistant to the main man. A trip to Celta is hardly the ideal start to his Málaga career and his side have yet to win an away game this season while the home side have won five of their last six at Balaídos.
Villarreal – Barcelona (Sunday 20.45) Prediction: draw
Barcelona are not the best side in Spain any more, apparently, and Luis Enrique’s side may find more misery awaiting them at El Madrigal against the best defence in the league. Villarreal have conceded just five at home this season and have goal threats throughout their squad. Barcelona have recovered from a run of three consecutive draws to keep in touch with Madrid but Fran Escribá will be quietly confident of holding the champions.
Osasuna – Valencia (Monday 20.45) Prediction: away win
Voro is a man who goes by a single moniker, but his surname may as well be “caretaker”. The perennial stop-gap has once again stepped unto the breach after the precipitous departure of Cesare Prandelli. Good news for Los Ché: Voro has only ever lost two top-flight games. More good news for Valencia: Osasuna have lost six of eight at home and have gained just two points all season in El Sadar.