Barcelona v Athletic Club Saturday, 15:15 Live on Betfair Live Video
Barcelona set the tone for a wild Wednesday night in La Liga by tossing away a lead and losing to struggling Leganés. It was never going to be as easy as some probably assumed at Butarque, yet the Catalans were still probably expecting to go on and win after Philippe Coutinho's early opener.
But the game got away from them in two second-half minutes, raising a few uncomfortable questions for Ernesto Valverde. Probably the most pressing is over his squad players: do the likes of Munir El Haddadi and Thomas Vermaelen really represent such a drop off that the side's overall performance dips like it did in midweek?
At any rate, there's no time for Barça to feel sorry for themselves. They now enter a gauntlet of fixtures, with this game against Athletic Club followed by matches against Tottenham, Valencia, Sevilla, Internazionale and Real Madrid. With a trip to Atlético Madrid also coming up before the end of November, it's going to be a critical couple of months in their season.
Athletic are without a win since opening day, much of which has to do with their defence. The Basques threw away leads in every one of their first four games (they got away with it against Leganés by scoring in injury time) and were well beaten by Villarreal in midweek, leaving them just two points above the drop zone at the start of the weekend round.
The play here is to back most goals in the second half - a bet would have paid off in five of seven Barcelona games so far (all competitions). Eight of the nine goals conceded by Athletic have come after the break, so the hosts could eventually make hay even if they're frustrated early on.
Atleti no pushovers in derby
Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid Saturday, 19:45 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
"Think that's a performance to get the fans worried? Hold my beer." That was (roughly) the internal monologue of this Real Madrid side in midweek, as the chance to go top of the table disintegrated in a blitz of Sevilla goals. Three times the defence was pierced in the first half, making a fightback impossible.
"It's simple: we gifted them 45 minutes," offered Casemiro by way of explanation, but you imagine there has been a more complete post-mortem since. The forwards were wasteful(21 shots, but Tomáš Vaclík made just three saves) and the defence was more porous than a sponge cake. Major improvements will be needed.
Atlético Madrid were of course the major winners of Jornada 5, cruising past Huesca and watching both major rivals crumble. The gap is back to two points for them, which feels like a huge let-off after their own wobble a couple of weeks back. Atleti haven't really found top gear yet, but they're still there or thereabouts - and they absolutely love a derby.
Los Rojiblancos are unbeaten in the last four games against Real, including the UEFA Super Cup, and when you zoom out, you can see the extent to which Diego Simeone has brought parity to the capital: since he took charge of Atleti, there have been in nine wins apiece(excluding penalties) and nine draws.
That, plus the fact that Real have won precisely none of the last five league derbies at the Bernabéu, makes the 2.12 on the home win look a bit short for us. Atleti are well capable of claiming a draw, and odds of 3.55 are good enough for us.
Time for Betis to click
Real Betis v Leganés Sunday, 19:45 Live on Eleven Sports 2 and Betfair Live Video
It has been a curiously low-key start to the season for Real Betis. Quique Setién's side were neutrals' favourites last term, their commitment to high-energy passing football serving up some wonderful, wacky goalfests. But the shock opening-day defeat to Levante (0-3) seemed to knock the stuffing out of them, and it's taken a while for the old swagger to return.
The arrival of a few new players probably also contributed to the slow progress, but one thing is quite clear: Setién has largely sorted out the defence, with five clean sheets in six (all competitions) since the Levante game. That creates a great platform, and while the attack has been fairly limp so far, it's only a matter of time before things click. There's too much talent there for it not to.
The time could be this weekend, with Leganés probably due a comedown after their midweek heroics. While solid at home, Los Pepineros have lost 10 consecutive away games in La Liga, with their last away win back in October 2017. They will find the going tough here, and a low-scoring Betis win looks likely.
Back most goals in the second half in Barcelona v Athletic Club at 5/6 (Sportsbook)
Back the draw in Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid at 3.55
Back Real Betis and under 3.5 goals at 13/10 against Leganés (Sportsbook)