Atlético could struggle to contain the league's top scorer in Montilivi while Valencia are experts in nicking a point from the Bernabéu.
Rayo – Eibar (Friday 21:00) Prediction: home win
According to AS English’s resident Rayo man, this could be Míchel’s last stand. Rayo have been pretty awful since their return to Primera, shipping 28 goals – more than any side in the division – with 19 of those being rattled in at home. Only Huesca, level on seven points at the foot of the table, have also failed to win a game in 2018-19 and Míchel needs to pull something out of the bag at home against a side with one win and four goals on the road. That said, Eibar’s last outing was a thorough humiliation of the European champions.
Celta – Huesca (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
If Celta games of late guarantee one thing, it’s goals. Incoming boss Miguel Cardoso lost his first game in charge but Celta have scored 10 in their last four Liga outings, which is just two short of Huesca’s tally for the entire season. However, eight of the bottom-placed side’s goals have come on the road and the Galicians have the leakiest defence outside the relegation zone so it could be a bit of a ding-dong in Balaídos, where new manager bounce in his first home game and Iago Aspas should be enough to see Cardoso over the line.
Valladolid – Leganés (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: home win
Valladolid’s six-game unbeaten streak, which included four straight victories, has come undone in recent weeks, with away losses to Real Madrid and Sevilla providing the bread for a meatless 0-0 home draw against Eibar. The problem for Los Pucelanos remains goals, or a lack thereof: no side has scored fewer than Sergio’s side, who have yet to break double figures. Only four games featuring the newly promoted side have witnessed more than one goal and Lega have managed just three on the road and have a lengthy injury list so a punt on 1-0 to the home side looks a decent shout.
Getafe – Espanyol (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Espanyol’s perfect home record came to an end last weekend when Girona performed a textbook smash and grab in the RCDE and the Parakeets’ away form doesn’t bode well for a trip to Getafe, who have been solid at home so far and only let in four goals in the Coliseum this season. The home side lead the fouls committed charts by a country mile and this may turn out to be one for the purists with few goals on offer.
Real Madrid – Valencia (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: draw
Valencia have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and lost by a single goal against Juventus in Turin in midweek, which wasn’t a bad result considering their woeful Champions League campaign. Real got back to winning ways after being thrashed by Eibar last weekend but remain a club with two different sides; the one that wins Champions Leagues, and the one that has lost five and drawn two of 13 league games. Much like when Santiago Solari went up against José Luis Mendilibar, the most experienced managed in Primera, Marcelino will be rubbing his hands at the prospect of outfoxing the raw Real boss. Valencia have taken a point from three of their last five visits to the Bernabéu and are capable of doing at least at that against Solari’s far-from solid side, who will be without Casemiro again for this one.
Betis – Real Sociedad (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: home win
Sociedad have a fair few injury concerns as they head to the Villamarín, where Quique Setién’s side ensured their Europa League progression on Thursday in a Sergio Canales-inspired 1-0 victory over Olympiacos. Betis are not scoring as freely as they were last season and remain vulnerable at the back, shipping eight in their last three Liga outings. Sociedad are a far different prospect away than at Anoeta, scoring more than Real Madrid and Barça on the road and this could be a bit of a classic. Betis should be bouncing after their European success though and are at more or less full strength for the visit of the txuri-urdin.
Girona – Atlético (Sunday 16:15) home win
The sight of Cristhian Stuani battering through the Espanyol back four to score twice in the opening five minutes last weekend will have given Diego Simeone a few cold sweats this week. Atlético will be travelling to Catalonia without most of their first-choice defence and have not been clipping them in for fun away from home. Last season, this would have had a classic Cholo 1-0 away win written all over it, but Girona are seventh on merit, have the league’s top scorer in Stuani and although they are stronger away from home, Eusebio’s side could spring a surprise in Montilivi having had the whole week to prepare for this one.
Barcelona – Villarreal (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Villarreal have not won in Camp Nou since 2008 and head to the reigning champions having picked up just a point in their last three away games. Before ñlast weekend’s 1-1 draw at the Metropolitano, Ernesto Valverde’s side had scored 4, 5, 3 and 3 in their last four games and while Barça’s defence is a shambles at the moment, the feeling is always that with Leo Messi on hand they’ll score one more than the opposition, even if that theory didn’t quite work out against Betis. The Submarine are languishing in 16th and odds of up to 13/1 on an away win tell their own story.
Alavés – Sevilla (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: away win
0 - Sevilla have failed to make a shot on target vs Standard Liege, their first game in all competitions this season. Shipwreck pic.twitter.com/7eiZZpoUD4— OptaJose (@OptaJose) 29 November 2018
Alavés can move level on points with leaders Sevilla with victory at Mendizorrotza but face a side who have scored almost as many goals on the road (15) as El Glorioso have in total (17). Alavés are unbeaten at home – only Atlético maintain a similar record – and have leaked just four goals in front of their own fans. Something has to give on Sunday night and we rather fancy it will be Abelardo’s impressive defensive record with Sevilla still smarting from a 1-0 loss against Standard Liège that has placed their Europa League qualification in peril.
Levante – Athletic (Monday 21:00) Prediction: home win
How long Athletic’s admirable policy of not knee-jerking in the face of adversity can last is open to question after last weekend’s draw against Getafe – a game the visitors arguably should have won having been denied a clear penalty in the 94th minute. The Lions have not won since the opening weekend and have chalked up eight draws since then. They have also slipped into the relegation zone and as one of the only three sides never to have tasted life in Segunda a loss at Levante, who are more than capable of inflicting the defeat that breaks Eduardo Berizzo's back in the Ciutat de Valencia.