Celta Vigo v Real Valladolid
Saturday, 15:15
Live on Betfair Live Video
Real Valladolid were one of the picks to be relegated in our antepost La Liga preview, and the four games so far have done little to shake that conviction. The Blanquivioletas have yet to score a single goal, and it's not as if they've only played top teams: they blanked at home to Alavés last weekend, as well as on trips to Getafe and Girona.
There is talent up front, with Enes Ünal, Ivi and Duje Čop all competing for starts. This issue is chance creation: even Ronaldo, now the majority owner of the club, would struggle to score many without decent service. Manager Sergio González is clearly trusted - he's just extended his contract - but an improvement will be needed if they're to survive in the top flight.
Celta Vigo's fine start to the season hit a slight bump last weekend, when they lost a madcap game with Girona. But Antonio Mohamed appears to have them heading in the right direction, with a 3-4-3 system that allows Pione Sisto, Iago Aspas and Maxi Gómez plenty of freedom.
The Galicians are unbeaten in 13 league games at Balaídos, scoring in all but one, so will be confident of breaking down a resolute Valladolid defence. And with their visitors so toothless,one or two goals should be all it takes to win this.

Madrid up to speed

Real Madrid v Espanyol
Saturday, 19:45
Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
Isco's free-kick, Gareth Bale's rapier finish, some amusing showboating from Marco Asensio... Real Madrid's Champions League opener against Roma in midweek helped banish any lingering Ronaldo-related worries in the competition the Portuguese always seemed to enjoy the most. There may come a time when they miss him, but for now the side is in rude health.
Los Merengues did, however, lose their 100% record in La Liga last weekend (1-1 away to Athletic Club), meaning they are already working with a points deficit in the title race. There should be a reaction this weekend, which is likely to be bad news for Espanyol, who have a fairly dire record in this fixture.
Madrid have won 11 of the last 12 games between the sides (all competitions), by an aggregate score of 31-3. And while the one blip in that run came in Catalonia last season, Madrid rested a number of first-choice players. There should be none of that this weekend.
In fairness to Los Periquitos, they've made a solid start to the campaign, winning both home games so far. But they will miss the cutting edge offered by Gerard Moreno in games like this (he scored the winner against Madrid at RCDE Stadium in February) and were beaten by Alavés in their last away match. If Madrid hit their stride, it could be a long 90 minutes.

Messi can lead the way again

Barcelona v Girona
Sunday, 19:45
Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
After a slightly jammy win over Real Sociedad last weekend - both goals owed much to defensive slip-ups - Barcelona were back to their ebullient best in midweek, swatting PSV Eindhoven aside in the Champions League. If you can take this team's temperature by studying Lionel Messi's body language, the signs for their rivals are worrying: the Argentine looks hugely motivated.
Messi already has seven goals to his name this season, all of them at home - a reflection of Barça's ability to dominate sides at the Camp Nou. They're now unbeaten in 38 league games on their own patch (W32 D6), which is their longest run since a two-year spell in the early 1990s. It's a serious record.
Fellow Catalans Girona will know all about the kind of welcome to expect from their neighbours, of course, having lost this fixture 6-1 last term. That is likely to temper expectations despite two eye-catching wins in a row (away to Villarreal and at home to Celta) and Eusebio Sacristán will probably know what's in store against his old club.
With Barça as short as 1.11 to win here, the best option is to make the most of the Same Game Multi option on the Sportsbook. Backing Barcelona with two or more goals from the irrepressible Messi yields odds of [2.49], which seems more than reasonable.
RECOMMENDED BETS
Back Celta Vigo and under 3.5 goals against Real Valladolid at 5/4 (Sportsbook)
Back Real Madrid and over 3.5 goals against Espanyol at 5/4 (Sportsbook)
Back Barcelona to win and Lionel Messi to score two or more goals at [2.49] (Sportsbook)

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