Real Madrid v Levante
Saturday, 12:00
Live on Sky Sports Football and Betfair Live Video
It's the third of four consecutive home games for Real Madrid, who were given just the most gentle prod of a wake-up call a fortnight ago. Some were already coronating Zinedine Zidane's charges as 2017/18 champions - they were and remain this column's pick - but Madrid were the first of the Big Two to drop points, drawing 2-2 with an energetic Valencia side at the Bernabéu.
In truth, that game could easily have ended in defeat, especially if Marco Asensiohad not activated god mode once more. Yet there's no real reason for any great concern and appointments against Levante and APOEL in the capital look very inviting as the champions look to launch their season properly on two fronts.
The Frogs have made a solid enough start to life back in Primera, grinding a win against Villarreal in Jornada 1 and coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Deportivo La Coruña. In both games they netted important late goals, suggesting the belief instilled in the side by Juan Muñiz during their promotion season is still present. Yet this is their first away fixture of the campaign and could well be an eye-opener as far as quality goes.
Levante are without influential midfielder José Luis Morales (suspended), while Madrid are boosted by the return of Sergio Ramos at the back. That will raise hopes of a clean sheet against a side who haven't scored in their last three league visits to the Bernabéu, and with a Champions League game on the horizon, the smart money may be on a businesslike home victory.
Recommended Bet
Back Real Madrid to win and under 3.5 goals at 2/1

Valencia v Atlético Madrid
Saturday, 15:15
Live on Betfair Live Video
This column had little to no reason to back Valencia at any stage last season, but it's worth breaking form when they host Atlético Madrid this weekend. Los Che were impressive at the Bernabéu before the international break: new signings Geoffrey Kondogbia and Jeison Murillo made good contributions and there was a reminder that this is a squad bursting with home-grown talent (José Gayá, Toni Lato and Carlos Soler all did well). There's no way Marcelino's side should be fighting a relegation battle this year.
Atlético pummelled Las Palmas last weekend, as expected, but struggled against a less flimsy side a week earlier (2-2 vs Girona) and have an important Champions League match against Roma coming up on Tuesday night, so their attentions may be divided. Throw in the absence of Antoine Griezmann and we have the basis of a good argument for opposing them. We'll stop short of backing Valencia to beat Atleti, who are unbeaten in 13 away games in La Liga, but they can certainly avoid defeat.
Recommended Bet
Back Valencia +0.5 (2pts) at 1.78

Barcelona v Espanyol
Saturday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football and Betfair Live Video
It is altogether too early to say whether the arrival of Ousmane Dembélé will be a catalyst for a proper revival, but at least Barcelona were able to muster some sort of reaction late in the transfer window. The outlook remains somewhat cloudy for the Catalans, but they do now at least have a player of real quality to fill the gaping, Neymar-shaped hole in their starting XI in the months to come.
A derby debut could be in the offing for Dembélé on Saturday, but the return of Luis Suárez after injury will arguably be the greater boost for Barça. The Uruguayan missed the first two games of the season but played for his country in World Cup qualifiers and should be at the disposal of Ernesto Valverde here. That will be music to the ears of Lionel Messi, who didn't look overly enamoured with his one-man-band routine against Betis and Alavés, even if it did get the job done.
Barcelona's home form has been impeccable either side of the summer break: they've won 13 in a row on their own patch. The last eight city derbies at the Camp Nou have all gone their way, with an aggregate score of 26-2, which indicates where the power lies in this rivalry. In fact, Espanyol have claimed just three points from the last 16 league meetings between the sides (home and away), so we're not expecting an upset.
Quique Sánchez Flores' side picked up a handy win in Sevilla in their opening game but then failed to break down Leganés at home, in a game marked by the emotional return of Sergio Garcia. They are a handy side on their day but are feeling their way into the season and those recent head-to-head results (last four league meetings at the Camp Nou: 5-1, 5-0, 4-1) shouldn't be ignored.
Recommended Bet
Back Any Other Home Win in the Correct Score Market at 2.70

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