Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari has his final audition while Marcelino and Javi Calleja are on thin ice and Quique Setién hopes Leo Messi won't face Betis.
Levante – Real Sociedad (21:00) Prediction: home win
Sociedad have been excellent on the road this season, their three wins to date all coming away from Anoeta, as have nine of the txuri-urdin’s 12 league goals. Levante though are unbeaten in five, winning four of those and knocking off two of the current top six at the same time. Both Asier Garitano and Paco López like to mix their tactics up so this might be a bit of a chess game, but the Frogs should be considered favourites for the win.
Valladolid – Eibar (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
Valladolid’s six-game unbeaten run came to an end against Madrid last weekend, but few would say they deserved to lose, rattling the woodwork twice before Real broke the deadlock with a very fortunate Vinicius effort. The Pucelanos already have half the number of points that would have ensured survival last season and the players often refer to the incredible atmosphere around the José Zorrilla. Winning games, a close bond with the fans and having Ronaldo as your boss will do that. And Valladolid can be expected to do an Eibar side who have struggled on the road this season and were thumped 4-0 by Celta last time they left Ipurua.
Getafe – Valencia (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: draw
Valencia won their third game of the season midweek to complete an underwhelming hat-trick of one victory in LaLiga, the Copa and Europe. To say this is not what the fans had in mind after last season’s heroics is a bit of understatement but Marcelino can point to some half-decent performances and some rotten luck against Girona last week. It won’t be too long before the notoriously trigger-happy Mestalla board reach for the top drawer if results don’t improve but not many sides have got the better of Geta this season.
Atlético – Athletic (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Athletic haven’t won away from home this season - they’ve only won one game in total in 11 attempts – and haven’t beaten Atlético in almost six years. Diego Simeone’s side are a bit thin on the ground due to injuries but beat Dortmund, one of Europe’s last remaining undefeated sides until Tuesday, and should have enough left in the tank to see off a Lions side languishing in 17th and averaging a goal a game this season.
Girona – Leganés (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: home win
The side from 10th to seventh in LaLiga – Girona, Valladolid, Getafe and Levante – all enjoy a better record away from home so far this season but Leganés provide any side with the perfect opportunity to redress statistical anomalies at the moment outside Butarque. The Cucumber Growers have picked up just one point on the road this season in six games and even with a thin squad it’s hard to see Girona passing up the opportunity to ease towards 20 points after overcoming Valencia and adversity away last week.
Alavés – Huesca (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: home win
El Glorioso are another side punching above their weight and Abelardo should be in the running for manager of the season if he can keep Alavés where they are now and into Europe next season; this is a club that spent 10 million euros in the summer and has four current internationals. After slipping to defeat last weekend away at Eibar, Alavés won’t pass up an invitation to spend the international break in the Champions League places against rock-bottom Huesca, who have shipped 17 on the road already this season.
Barcelona – Betis (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win
Quique Setién, with tongue firmly in cheek we imagine, suggested Barça should not risk Leo Messi for this one but the Argentinean may be available after Ernesto Valverde suggested he was ready for action in midweek. With Philippe Coutinho out the Barça boss may elect to use his talisman, if only from the bench, but with Luis Suárez in such devastating form Betis will have enough to worry about anyway. The Uruguayan has plundered six in his last three Liga outings and Setién's erratic side haven't beaten Barça in 10 years.
Rayo – Villarreal (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Rayo’s results of late have not been a fair indication of their play and the Madrid-based side were extremely unfortunate not to at least get a point out of the champions last weekend. The Yellow Submarine on the other hand have pretty much got what they have deserved after a poor start to the season that has reaped just two wins and nine goals in 11 league games. Rayo have conceded a bucket-load in Vallecas but should be able to keep Gerard Moreno and co quiet and carve out a valuable point.
Sevilla – Espanyol (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Espanyol will have to be considered as genuine contenders this season if they pull off a win at the Sánchez Pizjuán but Sevilla’s dramatic Europa League win won’t have done morale any harm and the Parakeets are in second largely due to their home form, where they have won five from five. On the road it’s a different story and Rubi’s men have just one victory outside the RCDE whereas most of Sevilla’s stumbles have been away from home as well.
Celta – Real Madrid (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: draw
Santiago Solari’s final rehearsal for the full-time Madrid job could have been an easier one from the Real interim manager’s point of view: Celta are capable of the sublime at times and this fixture was a 2-2 draw last season. Solari’s record of three wins with an aggregate score of 11-0 is eye-catching but the opposition hasn’t been stellar and neither have the performances other than the Plzen game. Iago Aspas is in form with the Spain striker bagging eight in the league so far and he’ll provide a sterner test of where Real’s back line is at than the Czechs did.