Real Valladolid v Atlético Madrid Saturday, 15:15 Live on Betfair Live Video
One of the main things standing between Atlético Madrid and the 2018/19 Spanish title is their feeble away form. Diego Simeone's men are a force to be reckoned with in the capital, but it's a completely different story on the road: seven games have yielded just the single win so far. That's troubling, especially when you consider that the fixtures haven't been overly tough, Madrid derby aside.
In that context, it's hard to see why Atleti are 1.79 favourites to beat Real Valladolid. The hosts don't exactly have household names coming out of their ears, but have made a good fist of life back in the top flight so far: they sit 12th at the start of the weekend, some six points above the relegation zone. Given they were tipped for the drop by many, that can be regarded as a success.
There's reason to think this game will be a tight affair. 11 of Valladolid's 15 league game so far have gone under the 2.5-goal mark, as have 12 of Atleti's. With the unders fairly short, it's worth looking at the Correct Score market, with 0-0, 1-1 and 0-1 the selections that interest us. Those would have come in in nine of 14 of these teams' games with home/away split taken into account.
Madrid should beat city rivals
Real Madrid v Rayo Vallecano Saturday, 17:30 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
You have to hand it to Real Madrid: they keep finding new ways to prolong their misery. Not content with a deeply underwhelming win over Huesca last weekend - a result that landed us a nice winner - Los Merengues contrived to get thrashed by CSKA Moscow in midweek. At home. Very awkward.
True, Santiago Solari rested a few players for that one, giving the likes of Vinícius Júnior, Federico Valverde, Jesús Vallejo and Javier Sánchez game time. But there was still plenty of talent on the pitch, especially after Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal stepped off the bench. Still, there was little improvement. "I didn't like what I saw in the second half," said a frustrated Solari.
Rayo Vallecano will be welcome opponents this weekend. Madrid have won their last 16 La Liga games against Los Franjirrojos, their best streak against a single team in the competition. Rayo shipped 10 goals on their last trip across the capital to the Bernabéu (10-2 in December 2015) and have only beaten Huesca and Eibar so far this term.
Míchel's side are capable of complicating things: they gave Barcelona a run for their money, and drew with Athletic Club and Villarreal. But all of those games were at Vallecas, and they're notably less potent away from home. Throw in two key absences - Jordi Amat is suspended and top scorer Raúl de Tomás can't play against his parent club - and you start to see why they're rated huge outsiders.
The home side should win this. But it may not be a landslide: Madrid's forwards are all struggling and Los Blancos have only netted five goals across their last five games in La Liga and the Champions League. Madrid to win and under 3.5 goals is worth taking on at 2.60.
Goals should flow in Valencia
Levante v Barcelona Sunday, 19:45 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
Ernesto Valverde won't have fond memories of playing Levante. It was the The Frogs who cost him and Barcelona an entire unbeaten season back in May, with a frankly ludicrous 5-4 win at the Ciutat de València. The months since have probably brought a few Emmanuel Boateng-themed nightmares, and understandably so.
He will be keen to make amends here, but Levante are not to be underestimated. Paco López's charges have been in excellent form over the last few months - one defeat in 11 in all competitions - and have already claimed the scalp of Real Madrid this season. In José Luis Morales, Roger Martí, Jason, Enis Bardhi, Rubén Rochina and José Campaña, they have plenty of individuals who can make a difference in attack.
The defence, though, is shaky: they shipped four against Eibar last week, two against Huesca, three against Real Sociedad, six at home to Sevilla. Their matches are producing almost 3.5 goals each, and with Barça not exactly rock-solid at the back themselves, this could well be an entertaining affair. Another 5-4 might be too much to ask for, but we could get somewhere close to that.
Dutch back 0-0, 1-1 and 0-1 scorelines in Valladolid v Atlético Madrid at 2.40
Real Madrid to beat Rayo Vallecano and under 3.5 goals at 2.60 (Sportsbook)
Back over 3.5 goals and both teams to score in Levante v Barcelona at 1.99 (Sportsbook)