Espanyol – Eibar (Tuesday 20:00) Prediction: home win
The Parakeets have been perfect at home this season, winning both of their games at the RCDE without conceding a goal and host an Eibar side that have scored only once outside Ipurua. Rubi’s side gave Madrid a tough game at the weekend, one that was lost only via a hugely fortunate series of deflections leading up to Marco Asensio’s goal and one that could easily have been a point gained for the visitors had the crossbar not intervened. The home side have only beaten Eibar once at home over the past four seasons, with two wins and a draw the visitor’s record during that time, but if Espanyol can match the intensity they showed in the Bernabéu they should come out on top.
Real Sociedad – Rayo (Tuesday 21:00) Prediction: home win
Rayo are in serious trouble on their return to Primera and shipped five at home against Alavés last time out – hardly the sort of result that bodes well for their continued presence at LaLiga’s top table. The Madrid-placed side are rooted in at the bottom of the pile and although their one win to date came away, a record of three scored and 10 conceded should provide La Real with a perfect platform to improve on their own under-par home tally of a solitary goal so far. A 1-0 win away at Huesca was a step in the right direction for Asier Garitano and anything other than a repeat against one of the early favourites for the Segunda trap-door will have Anoeta up in arms and the former Leganés boss under some serious scrutiny.
Atlético – Huesca (Tuesday 22:00) Prediction: home win
Atlético have not started as Diego Simeone would have liked and his strikers have been misfiring horribly, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa managing a single Liga goal between them across five games. Huesca have scored one more than Atlético in 2018-19 but the issue for Leo Franco’s side is a back line that has shipped 13 already. Unlucky for some, but Simeone will be hoping this is the gimme to get the ship back on course. Despite a slow start, the Rojiblancos sit in fifth but can’t afford to surrender any more ground this early in the campaign.
Leganés – Barcelona (Wednesday 20:00) Prediction: away win
Leganés will have watched Girona’s inspired display at Camp Nou a couple of times on video this week to spur hopes of a famous victory. History doesn’t favour the home side, who have never beaten Barça and leaked eight over the course of their last two games against the reigning champions in Butarque. The visitors will be smarting from their weekend comeback draw and eyeing a defence that has conceded 10 in five games hungrily. Leganés’ home record is not too shabby – a draw and a loss with three conceded – but Barça are unlikely to deposit any more points on the Cucumber Growers’ patch.
Athletic – Villarreal (Wednesday 20:00) Prediction: home win
Only three sides have never been relegated from Primera: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic, although last season there were genuine concerns over The Lion’s ability to maintain their place in that exclusive den. In 2018-19, the same triumvirate are the only clubs that remain unbeaten. Eduardo Berizzo has more or less the same resources at his disposal as Cuco Ziganda and has stabilized Athletic without yet rediscovering the form that Ernesto Valverde habitually squeezed out of the recruitment-limited Basques. The visit of Villarreal - who were toothless against Valencia last weekend and failed to capitalize on Dani Parejo’s red card to punish Los Che at home - have scored just once outside the Cerámica and seem like the ideal opportunity for Athletic to maintain their early-season record while hoisting themselves up the table with a much-needed victory.
Valencia – Celta (Wednesday 22:00) Prediction: draw
Marcelino’s side are curiously red-hot favourites for victory against Celta despite 11 places separating the two sides in the table and the Galicians behind only Real and Barça this season in the goals-scored stakes. Neither side can defend to any reasonable degree and a few should be expected in Mestalla, where the Valencia boss will be the object of the dreaded white hankies - however premature and undeserved after he dragged Los Che from mid-table mediocrity to the Champions League last season – if the visitors emerge victorious. A scoring draw seems the most likely outcome.
Sevilla – Real Madrid (Wednesday 22:00) Prediction: draw
Real Madrid have won just once in their last four visits to the Sánchez Pizjuán; a 3-2 success back in 2014-15. Since then, Sevilla have come out on top by the same scoreline twice, sandwiched by a 2-1 win. Given that Pablo Machin finally has his side firing at the business end – Wissam Ben Yedder has helped himself to five in two games as Sevilla plundered 11 against Standard Liege and Levante – and with Real suffering their standard defensive issues, there should be a few goals on Wednesday. Julen Lopetegui is shorn of Dani Carvajal and master lock-pick Isco and is likely to rotate with the derby on the horizon, making this a 50-50 punch-up. Remarkably, Sevilla are yet to score at home in LaLiga but have banged in 10 on the road and Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema will fancy a piece of a defence that is prone to the same lapses as their own.
Alavés – Getafe (Thursday 20:00) Prediction: home win
Alavés have taken 2018-19 by storm under Abelardo - who always finds a way to punch above his side’s weight - and sit in the Champions League places after five games, capped by a 5-1 demolition of Rayo. Last season was about survival, Abelardo taking over from Gianni Di Biasi as El Glorioso’s third permanent manager in November and leading his side comfortably to safety. Alavés can and should aim so much higher this season and a home win against a solid if unspectacular Geta, who have been true to form with two wins, two losses and four at each end so far, could put some daylight between third and fourth.
Valladolid – Levante (Thursday 20:00) Prediction: home win
A bit like the buses, it took Valladolid 399 minutes on their top-flight return to find the net, then three came along at once. Shell-shocked Celta could only stand back and watch in amazement as the onion-bag allergic Pucelanos overturned an initial two-goal deficit and then a 3-1 disadvantage to claim a third draw of the season. Maybe the prospect of new owner Ronaldo promising to get out on the training pitch had the desired effect. In any case, Sergio González’s side are involved in a probable league of four at the bottom and currently third in that micro-table. The prospect of leapfrogging Huesca in front of the José Zorrilla faithful should be motivation enough against Paco López’s Levante, who would also slip into the mire in defeat. López last season alluded to the “league of four,” and won it with aplomb, but he has since misplaced the stardust that had his side top of a league table based on the most recent 10 games at the start of 2018-19.
Girona – Betis (Thursday 22:00) Prediction: away win
After five Liga games, those involving Quique Setién’s side have reaped eight goals. That was a fairly standard return for one last season when Betis swashbuckled their way into the Europa League. An outside tip to “do a Leicester” in 2018-19, Betis have not started as brightly as expected, getting off the mark in week three to claim the Seville derby spoils then firing blanks again at Mestalla before overturning a two-goal deficit at the Villamarín to deny Athletic. That may serve as a jump-start for Setién’s side, who have won their last four at Montilivi in Primera and Segunda stretching back to 2009, conceding just once during that run.