It's crunch time for Julen Lopetegui as Real Madrid travel to Barcelona for El Clásico while Atlético will look for a response after being humbled by Dortmund.
Valladolid – Espanyol (Friday 21:00) Prediction: home win
Valladolid are in a purple patch with four wins on the bounce propelling Los Pucelanos into sixth place in the table. Espanyol are also on a roll, second in the division and with the only remaining perfect home record in LaLiga. Away from the RCDE it’s a different story though with the Parakeets picking up their first victory on the road last weekend against a struggling Huesca. Valladolid have won their last three games 1-0 and could nick a similar result at home.
Girona – Rayo (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
Girona are on a run of five games without a win and will be missing the league’s top scorer, Cristhian Stuani, for this one. While Rayo are generally more solid away from home than in Vallecas, conceding just four on their travels, the Madrid-based side aren’t finding the net with frequency and Eusebio’s side are heavy favourites to get back to winning ways in Montilivi.
Athletic – Valencia (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: draw
These two sides have chalked up 13 draws between already this season and have each won just one game, a record shared with only the bottom two sides in the division. While Valencia’s problem has been scoring, Athletic’s is an inability to defend a lead and it might be a rather cagey affair in San Mamés with both Marcelino and Eduardo Berizzo walking a fine line at the moment.
Celta – Eibar (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Celta’s bright start to the season has come off the rails in recent weeks, with the Galicians not having won a game since September 1. Girona, Sevilla and Alavés have all beaten Antonio Mohamed’s side since then and the Celta manager is the current front-runner to become the second coach sacked in 2018-19 as his side’s drop down the table continues. Eibar blow hot and cold but will fancy their chances of getting something out of Balaídos, where so much depends on Iago Aspas’s form. Keep the Spain international quiet and Celta will struggle.
Levante – Leganés (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: home win
The Cucumber Growers are in the drop zone but have been improving in recent weeks, knocking off Barça in Butarque and holding Valencia to a draw in Mestalla. Their away form remains an issue, as it has done since their ascent to Primera in 2016. Lega have finished 17th in both of their seasons in the top flight and will settle for that again but Levante will take some stopping at home after a run of three straight victories capped by beating Real Madrid last weekend.
Atlético – Real Sociedad (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Diego Simeone suffered the worst defeat of his managerial career against Borussia Dortmund and it’s safe to assume he read his players the riot act after a 4-0 drubbing in Germany. None of Atlético’s big names have been firing and it has often fallen to Ángel Correa to bail his side out trouble this season. Sociedad are without an away win against Atlético since 2013 and Simeone will make very sure that his side are keyed in for this one as he seeks to take advantage of one of dropped points in El Clásico.
Getafe – Betis (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: away win
Betis have been erratic to say the least this season and have struggled to find the net but a 2-1 away win at Milan in the Europa League won’t have done morale any harm. Getafe have been finding home no comfort this season and a return of two goals in four games in the Coliseum should invite Betis to go out on the front foot in Sunday’s early kick-off. If Quique Setién’s side get a foothold early in the game, it’s difficult to see Getafe responding positively.
Barcelona – Real Madrid (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win
If all sources are to believed, this could well be Julen Lopetegui’s final game in charge of Real Madrid. The former Spain coach has looked like a man adrift at sea in recent weeks as Real have limped from one bad result to another. A lacklustre 2-1 win over Plzen in the Champions League stopped the rot but hardly got pulses racing and even without Leo Messi, Barcelona can be expected to hammer the final nail into the coffin of Lopetegui’s Madrid career.
Alavés – Villarreal (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
El Glorioso are riding high in third and have yet to be beaten at Mendizorrotza so the sight of the Submarine hoving into view won’t be of any major concern to Abelardo, who is overseeing a famous run of five victories in seven games. Villarreal might have thrashed Rapid Vienna 5-0 in midweek action but domestically they have been in dreadful form since beating Athletic last month and there’s little to suggest Alavés won’t add a little more pressure to Javi Calleja’s shoulders with a single point separating his side from the drop zone.
Sevilla – Huesca (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Barcelona threw a spanner in Sevilla’s works last weekend but before that Pablo Machín’s side had been in excellent form, winning four on the bounce and putting six past Levante and three past Madrid and Eibar. A 6-0 victory over Akhisar in the Europa League was a decent warm-up for the visit of Huesca, who are conceding at a rate of over two goals per game.