Barcelona v Celta Vigo Saturday, 17:30 Live on Eleven Sports 2 and Betfair Live Video
Usually, with Real Madrid away at the Club World Cup, this would be an opportunity for Barcelona to put distance between themselves and their closest rivals. But because things are a bit tilted in this madcap Spanish season, Barça don't have the usual breath on the backs of their necks; Sevilla and Atlético Madrid are the chasers-in-chief, and the Catalans are already guaranteed to get to the new year in top spot (barring an insane goal-difference swing this weekend).
That's a handy cushion given their recent record against Celta. Barcelona have only won three of their last eight league games (D2 L3) with the Galicians, and both of last season's meetings ended 2-2. If a side the size of Barcelona can be said to have a bogey team, Celta may just be it.
It's been a mixed bag from Celta this term: Iago Aspas has been at it in attack and the emergence of Brais Méndez has been a real feelgood story, but consistency has been an issue again. At least they appear to have tightened up at the back since Miguel Cardoso took charge: it's now two clean sheets in four after two in 12 under Antonio Mohamed.
Admittedly, both of those were at home, so we don't expect them to thwart Barça here. But they will be hopeful of scoring, even if Barça have looked a bit sharper defensively themselves recently. Aspas will be key: no player has scored more league goals against Barcelona in the last five league seasons (five goals in seven meetings). Pairing him with the in-form Leo Messi could be a value double.
Leganés no pushovers
Leganés v Sevilla Sunday, 15:15 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
It's been a great season so far for Sevilla, who have really kicked on under the stewardship of Pablo Machín. The former Girona coach has taken what looked like a fairly imbalanced squad and squeezed it into new shapes: his 3-5-2 formation didn't look a natural fit, but has worked a charm, with Jesús Navas reborn as a wing-back, Franco Vázquez repurposed as a midfielder and André Silva resurgent after a terrible spell with AC Milan.
Coming into Jornada 17, they sit second, three points off the summit. Only Barcelona have turned them over in 13 league games. It stands to reason, then, that they'll be expecting to beat 16th-placed Leganés. And they may well do so, but there's reason to believe it will be an attritional battle.
First, consider the team news: Éver Banega and Pablo Sarabia are both suspended, which will deprive Sevilla of a good chunk of their creativity in central areas. The latter especially has been brilliant, combining time and again with Wissam Ben Yedder, and will be missed.
It's also worth noting that Los Rojiblancos have slowed down just a touch in attacking terms. They last scored three times in a league game back in September, with recent successes more gritty than glamorous. Away from home they have struggled, with three draws on the spin.
Leganés, meanwhile, might just be a better side than their league position would attest. They're certainly enjoying a spell of solid form, with just one defeat in 10 (all competitions), and have been particularly impressive at Butarque: it's just one home defeat so far, with Barcelona and Atlético Madrid among the sides to be frustrated.
The play here is to back under 2.5 goals. That would have paid out in 11 of Leganés' last 13 league matches, and five of Sevilla's last six.
Rayo Vallecano v Levante Sunday, 17:30 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
There's every chance the weekend will close on an exciting note in the capital, where Rayo Vallecano host Levante.
The hosts haven't been great this season - they're 19th, with just two wins so far - but have been pretty reliable at Vallecas as far as goalscoring goes: they've netted in all eight of their games there, despite some tricky fixtures. Lead striker Raúl de Tomas will be raring to go after missing out against parent club Real Madrid last week, and all of his goals this term have come on home soil.
Rayo will also enjoy looking at Levante's goals-against column. The Frogs shipped five against Barcelona last time out, four against Eibar the week before, and two against struggling Huesca before that. No wonder that their fine form of a few weeks ago has dried up a touch; no team can be that leaky and expect to get away with it.
Suspensions for Erick Cabaco and Jason further hurt Levante's cause, but they do still have the firepower to contribute at the other end of the field. A bet of both teams to score and over 2.5 goals would have paid out in 17 of these teams' 32 combined league games this term, and is thus a solid pick.
Back Lionel Messi and Iago Aspas to score in Barcelona v Celta Vigo at [6.77] (Sportsbook)
Back under 2.5 goals in Leganés v Sevilla at 1.80
Back over 2.5 goals and both teams to score in Rayo Vallecano v Levante at 1.85 (Sportsbook)