Villarreal v Barcelona Tuesday, 20:30 Live on ITV4, Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
Just 16 minutes into their game against Celta Vigo, Villarreal were in dream land. They were 2-0 up thanks to goals from Karl Toko Ekambi and Alfonso Pedraza, Javi Calleja's side looked well on the way to recording a huge victory that would have put seven points between them and the relegation zone.
Instead, disaster struck. Celta, inspired by the returning Iago Aspas, fought back: 2-1, 2-2, and with time running out, a penalty that condemned them to a damaging defeat. Seven points? Try one point, with fresh belief breathed into Celta's survival bid, to boot. "This is a major blow," admitted Calleja.
There's no immediate respite, either, with Barcelona coming to town in midweek. This is a fixture the Yellow Submarine haven't won since way back in 2007/2008, and Barça's form could fairly be described as 'ominous': Saturday's derby win over Espanyol was their sixth straight league success, and they barely needed to get out of second gear.
We fully expect Ernesto Valverde's men to add to Villarreal's woes here, with odds of 1.77plenty big enough. But we'll also have a small punt on the hosts finding the net, as they have done in nine of their last 10 outings (all competitions).
Draw masters to strike again?
Valencia v Real Madrid Wednesday, 20:30 Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
It's two wins from two for Zinedine Zidane back at the Bernabéu, but anyone looking for a reliable pattern to emerge from Real Madrid's displays is out of luck. Whereas the 2-0 win over Celta Vigo was relatively bloodless, the Sunday night game against Huesca quickly turned into a helter-skelter joy ride.
Madrid were behind with four minutes, might have conceded a couple more before the break, came back, yet still needed Karim Benzema to pop up with a classy late goal to win it. There were individual errors all over the pitch, not least in goal, where Luca Zidane - no prizes for guessing who his dad is - looked shaky. And while some of the madness could be blamed on rotation - Toni Kroos, Luka Modrić and Marco Asensio were all left out - this has also been the story of Madrid's season.
An improvement can be expected on Wednesday, assuming the first-choice midfield returns (Casemiro was also on the bench at the weekend). But Los Merengues won't find the going easy against a Valencia side who appear to be allergic to losing: it's now 16 games since they last suffered a defeat.
Are Los Che always totally convincing? No, and the fact they have drawn 16 of 29 league games tells its own story. But the current run has taken them to the quarter-finals of the Europa League and to within three points of the top four, so Marcelino could argue that his approach is working. Certainly, the defence is clicking: Valencia have kept five home clean sheets in a row in La Liga.
With Madrid so hard to pin down, the draw looks like the way to go here. Valencia have picked up a single point in home games against all the other sides in the top seven(1-1 vs Atlético Madrid, 1-1 vs Barcelona, 1-1 vs Sevilla and 0-0 vs Getafe; they've yet to host Alavés), and it would be no major surprise were this match to follow suit.
Pepineros can pick up another win
Leganés v Real Valladolid Thursday, 19:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
Leganés took another decisive step away from the relegation picture at the weekend, picking up a fine 2-0 win away to Getafe. Mauricio Pellegrino's charges are now up to the giddy heights of 12th and - whisper it quietly - might even feel a top-half finish is within their grasp.
Key to their campaign has been their home form: the Cucumber Growers have only lost twice at Butarque all season, with Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Sevilla among the sides to go home frustrated. They have been particularly good at picking off teams at the bottom of the table: Rayo Vallecano, Levante and Huesca were all beaten 1-0.
We like the chances of Leganés adding another win this weekend. Real Valladolid are battling manfully against the drop but have generally been struggling away: before a dramatic (and jammy) late turnaround at Eibar, they had lost four on the spin on their travels. Sergio González will set them up to frustrate, but they're up against a side growing in confidence.
1.5pts Barcelona to beat Villarreal at 1.77
0.5pts Barcelona to beat Villarreal and both teams to score at 2.90 (Sportsbook)