Under-par Madrid too short

Real Madrid v Levante
Saturday, 12:00
Live on Eleven Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video
It doesn't take much to set the crisis bells ringing in the capital, but on this occasion you'd have to say that a bit of doom-mongering is probably justified. It's now four games without a win for Real Madrid - three of them defeats - and while you could just about argue that Sevilla and Atlético Madrid are top-rate opponents, the last two results have come against the combined forces of CSKA Moscow and Alavés. It's not ideal.
Also not ideal: Madrid's attacking output. Julen Lopetegui's men haven't even troubled the scorers since 22 September, when Marco Asensio scored the winner against Espanyol. The 409 minutes since have been a pretty convincing argument for the notion that Cristiano Ronaldo is irreplaceable after all, with Karim Benzema's early-season form now a distant memory and Gareth Bale again held back by fitness concerns.
There's a chance the Welshman could return to the fray here, which would be a major boost. Beyond that, there's the (slightly unscientific) feeling that this group of attacking players can't continue to misfire forever. Isco's creativity has been missed, but there should still be enough there, and a reaction is surely due at some stage. The question is when.
Levante are a hard team to pin down, but there's no doubt that they're a tricky proposition on their day. In José Luis Morales and Enis Bardhi, they have have midfielders capable of conjuring something from nothing, while Roger Martí finally appears to be getting to grips with the top flight.
Will Levante win this? Probably not; they haven't tasted victory at the Bernabéu since 2007. But they held Los Merengues to two draws last term and there's simply no reason for Lopetegui's out-of-sorts side to be 1.17 favourites. We'll be backing the away side with a handy headstart on the Asian handicap.

Time for Valencia to kick on?

Valencia v Leganés
Saturday, 15:15
It's easy to make a pessimistic reading of Valencia's season so far: Los Che haven't played with nearly the spark they showed last season, and are languishing in 13th - far below expectations. The forwards aren't scoring and the new signings haven't had the desired impact.
There's plenty of truth to this, but equally, it's not too difficult to put a more spin on things. Marcelino's side are unbeaten in six league games, and have had a treacherous run of fixtures to start the season. To avoid defeat against Atlético Madrid, Betis, Villarreal, Celta Vigo and Barcelona is actually no mean feat, and there were signs before the international break - especially against Barça - that they're getting their act together.
Easier fixtures are on the horizon, beginning on Saturday. Leganés stunned Barcelona themselves but have lost all of their away games, and look worryingly short of cutting edge up front. They have also lost all six competitive games against Valencia in their history.
The hosts should pick up three points, then, but there's extra value to be squeezed out of this one. Nine of Valencia's first 10 games of the season (all competitions) have gone under the 2.5 goal mark, and they've only scored twice in a match on one occasion. Leganés, meanwhile, have also been frugal since being clobbered at the Bernabéu: four of their five games since have finished 1-0 (three defeats, one win). Valencia to win with under 2.5 goals looks value at 23/10.

Goals on the cards at Camp Nou

Barcelona v Sevilla
Saturday, 19:45
Live on Eleven Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video
It's first vs second at Camp Nou, and if Madrid's absence from the top two will always raise an eyebrow, that's just the start of it. For it's Sevilla, not Barcelona, who lead the wayafter eight rounds, four wins on the spin having propelled Pablo Machín's charges into pole position for the first time since 2007.
It has been a hugely impressive run, starting with a blowout 6-2 win at Levante (told you they were hard to pin down) and that memorable win over Real. And while there were fewer fireworks against Eibar and Celta Vigo, those results were just as significant, not least because they sandwiched a long trip to Krasnodar in the Europa League. This squad has stamina and depth as well as shooting boots.
It goes without saying that this match will be a proper examination of their title credentials. Sevilla have won just one of their last 22 league meetings with Barcelona, and haven't won in the last 15 in Catalonia (D2 L13). That latter sequence comes with an asterisk, too: 40 goals conceded, at an average of 2.7 per game. It hasn't been a happy hunting ground.
Barcelona have been in shaky form, taking just three three points from the last four games - and against fairly modest opposition, Valencia aside. The win over Tottenham and Madrid's woes have deflected some scrutiny, but the Blaugrana have looked wobbly at the backand - again - over-reliant on a certain shuffling genius in attack.
The angle here is to back goals. These are La Liga's two top-scoring teams, and between them have kept just four clean sheets in 16 games (two apiece). Barcelona's defence will again have a patched-up look to it (Samuel Umtiti is out and Sergi Roberto still struggling) and Sevilla are more than capable of turning this into a slugging match.
RECOMMENDED BETS
1.5pts Levante +2.5 against Real Madrid at 1.76
Back Valencia to win and under 2.5 goals against Leganés at 23/10 (Sportsbook)
Back both teams to score two or more goals in Barcelona v Sevilla at 9/4 (Sportsbook)
0.5pts both teams to score in both halves in Barcelona v Sevilla 11/2 (Sportsbook)

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