Alavés v Barcelona
Saturday, 17:15
Live on Sky Sports Mix and Betfair Live Video

It would be overly ambitious to expect all of their problems to disappear at once, but the last week has been another chastening one for Barcelona's PR department, what with lawsuits, social media hacks and ongoing frustration in their attempts to prise Philippe Coutinho away from Liverpool.

At least Ernesto Valverde's charges had the wherewithal to ensure a positive start on the pitch last weekend. The Blaugrana beat Betis 2-0 but had a couple of Lionel Messi's 241 shots against the woodwork snuck in, the scoreline would have looked far more convincing. With no Luis Suárez, the Argentine looked to have clicked into one-man-mission mode - probably no bad thing at the moment, although Sergi Roberto's tidy contribution from midfield should not be overlooked.

Alavés are adjusting to life without Mauricio Pellegrino and did not offer a great deal away to Leganés in their opener. Deyverson looks like he's going to be a big miss in attack and much will depend on the ability of their defence to replicate the solidity that defined their 2016/17 campaign.

The Basques were the only team to beat Barcelona on their own patch last season (2-1 in La Liga), but were thrashed 6-0 at Mendizorrotza and were well beaten in the Copa del Rey final at the end of the season. They will likely attempt to keep things tight, which may frustrate Barça for a time, but Messi should be the difference for the visitors.

Recommended Bet
Back Lionel Messi to score two or more goals at 5/2

Las Palmas v Atlético Madrid
Saturday, 21:15
Live on Sky Sports Football and Betfair Live Video

Atlético Madrid looked dead and buried at 2-0 and a man down against Girona on opening weekend, yet somehow clawed their way back to salvage a draw thans to goals from Ángel Correa and José María Giménez, plus some staggering goalkeeping by Jan Oblak. A point from a game against a newly-promoted side isn't exactly something to get too excited about, but at least there was some spirit away.

Atleti will be without Antoine Griezmann for the next couple of weekends after a dive and a few barbs aimed at the referee last Sunday, which won't help their chances of doing better this time out. But Diego Simeone doesn't lack for options in attacking areas and can draw comfort from the fact that his side have had little trouble picking off Las Palmas over the last couple of seasons.

Since the Canary Islanders returned to the top flight two years ago, these two sides have met six times across league and cup games. Atleti have won five of them, keeping a clean sheet on each occasion, with the only loss coming in the second leg of a Copa del Rey tie in which they had already established a first-goal lead.

Las Palmas ended last season in a hole and things could get worse before they get better on the evidence of their defeat to Valencia last week. Alen Halilović sits this one out after a red card in that game and they could struggle against a team that will be looking to improve on last week's defensive showing.

Recommended Bet
Back Atlético Madrid to win to nil at 15/8

Real Madrid v Valencia
Sunday, 21:15
Live on Sky Sports Football and Betfair Live Video

As if the comparison with Barcelona wasn't already shining a warm light on them, Real Madrid kicked off their campaign in some style against Deportivo La Coruña, cruising to a 3-0 win in Galicia. The third was a thing of particular beauty, Toni Kroos guiding the ball home after a 44-pass move that had originated with Keylor Navas in goal. A late red card for Sergio Ramos (start as you mean to go on, why don't you?) was the only blot on Madrid's copybook.

The champions now welcome Valencia to the Bernabéu. Marcelino's charges started with a win over Las Palmas, racking up 22 shots on goal, but their opponents played for an hour with ten men. They have made life tough for Madrid in the capital in recent seasons - four draws in the last six - but there's no real reason to expect them to upset the apple cart this weekend.

Ramos is suspended for the hosts, meaning there should be a start for Nacho at the back. That will give hope to Simone Zaza and his team-mates and with Madrid just 1.18 to win and short even on the Asian handicap, we will take a chance on Valencia at least adding their name to the scorecard. Both teams have scored in the nine meetings between the sides, after all.

Recommended Bet
Back Real Madrid to win and both teams to score at Evens

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