Villarreal v Getafe Saturday, 19:45 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
There has been a slight new-manager bounce at Villarreal since Luis García came in to replace Javi Calleja. The Yellow Submarine are unbeaten in five and have finally started to click in the final third. Yet four of those five games have ended level, and a glance at the league table tells you that further improvements will be needed if they're to salvage their season. They are 18th heading into Jornada 19, and with Rayo Vallecano finding their feet, things could get worse before they get better.
Villarreal's home record this term is pretty wretched - seven points from nine games - and there's good reason to think they're overrated as 2.20 favourites to beat Getafe on Saturday. José Bordalás' battlers have been typically hard to beat this season: they have only lost three games in 16, all of them by a single goal, and sit seventh. Most relevantly, they have been excellent on the road, losing just one of ten away matches in all competitions.
The loss of street-fighting defender Damián Suárez (suspended) hurts the Getafe cause a touch, but they will make life tough for their hosts here, and in Ángel Rodríguez, Jorge Molina and Jaime Mata, they have the tools to make the most of their forays forward. We like their chances of avoiding defeat.
Barça unlikely to be troubled
Barcelona v Eibar Sunday, 17:30 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
If Barcelona are to win this league, last weekend will go down as a major hurdle cleared en route. While Real Madrid were collapsing against Real Sociedad, and Atlético Madrid and Sevilla were cancelling each other out, the Blaugrana dug deep into their reserves of grit - and luck, some would say - to find a way past Getafe. It wasn't especially convincing, but their lead is now five points.
There was a slight disturbance in the force in midweek, in the shape of a 2-1 Copa del Rey defeat to Levante. But despite a few murmurings about Messidependencia - Barcelona's talisman was given the night off and was badly missed - it's unlikely to change the mood much. The second leg next week offers a chance of redemption, and with three of their next four league games at home (and pretty winnable), Ernesto Valverde's side have a great chance to tighten their grip at the summit.
Eibar, for all their overachievement, have not enjoyed playing Barça since graduating to the top flight. They have lost all eight meetings between the sides, scoring just four goals and conceding 28. José Luis Mendilibar's men have also struggled to impose themselves away from home this term, netting in just three of eight matches.
With the hosts prohibitively short at 1.15, there are two options. The first is to back them on the Asian handicap: Barcelona -2.5 is 1.93. The second, inspired by those Eibar away goal stats, is to take a chance on them winning to nil at 2.04.
No goal fest in Seville
Real Betis v Real Madrid Sunday, 19:45 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
We're only a couple of weeks into the new year, and already Santiago Solari appears to be a dead man walking at Real Madrid. The Club World Cup might have bought him a little time, but the way things have gone since Los Merengues resumed their league campaign has set alarm bells ringing: throwing away a lead at Villarreal was careless, and the defeat to Real Sociedad last weekend downright disastrous. That one ended 2-0, but it could have been more.
True, they made short work of Leganés in the cup on Wednesday night, but aside from another sparky outing for Vinícius Júnior - the one bright spark in recent weeks - there was nothing to inspire confidence that better league form is around the corner. Madrid even seem cowed in the transfer market, arguably their natural habitat, with the arrival of Brahim Díaz hardly likely to deflect attention away from their on-field struggles.
On Sunday, they face Real Betis, who are one place and four points below them. These sides produced two classic games last season - Madrid won 5-3 at the Benito Villamarín and Betis won at the Bernabéu - and there's every chance this will be another good battle, even if the hosts have looked a touch off the pace since returning from the winter break. Quique Setién's side were stunned by Huesca last Saturday and couldn't find a way past Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey.
There's reason to think this will be a low-scoring game. Betis can struggle to convert their possession into clear-cut chances in front of their own fans, with nine of 15 home games so far - and six of the last seven - going under the 2.5-goal line (all competitions).
Four of Madrid's last five league games have gone the same way. They have already drawn blanks at Sevilla, Eibar and Alavés this term, and only managed one on trips to Athletic Club and Huesca. With Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio injured, plus Lucas Vázquez suspended, they look unlikely to overrun a canny Betis side.
Back Getafe +0.5 against Villarreal at 1.80
Back Barcelona to beat Eibar to nil at 2.04
Back under 2.5 goals in Real Betis v Real Madrid at 2.38