Aspas can lead Celta charge again

Celta Vigo v Girona
Saturday, 12:00
Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
You can be sure that one man will be at the centre of everything as the weekend's action gets underway at Balaídos on Saturday lunchtime. He only returned from injury a few weeks ago, but already Iago Aspas' fingerprints are all over Celta Vigo's survival bid; he has five goals in three games, helping the Galicians claim seven points from the last 12 available.
He missed their last outing, away at Atlético Madrid, through suspension, and the drop-off was notable. But Aspas will be back in the starting XI here, which is likely to be bad news for a Girona side in freefall. Eusebio Sacristán's charges have lost four on the spin; zoom out a little further and it's just three wins in 19 since the start of December. A couple more adverse results and they'll be right in the relegation mix.
Celta will fancy overtaking them with a win here, but odds of 2.06 are a touch skinny for our tastes. But backing Aspas - who is on penalties and free-kicks as well as general talisman duties - to find the net again looks like a solid option.

Barça can swat La Real aside

Barcelona v Real Sociedad
Saturday, 19:45
Live on ITV4, Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
One of the minor consequences of Lionel Messi's eternal genius is that writing about him, some 15 years into his senior career, is pretty futile. He's amazing. You know he's amazing. Oh look, the amazing man had another amazing match. Here are some adjectives and metaphors.
You probably watched Barcelona beat Manchester United. It was fairly easy once You Know Who decided to take the match into his own hands. The Blaugrana now have a fortnight to prepare for the visit of Liverpool, which you imagined will be a much tougher challenge. With the league pretty much wrapped up already, the focus will be on fitness - Ousmane Dembélé in particular will be hoping to get up to speed - and rhythm.
Ernesto Valverde will pick a stronger side than the one that started against Huesca, which featured three debutants. But you imagine there will be chances for bit-part players here, and against Alavés and Levante, with the biggest names getting a few minutes off here and there. It probably won't make a huge difference, especially at home, where Barça have lost just once in their last 79 games (excluding Super Cups).
The Catalans usually enjoy hosting Real Sociedad: 71 league meetings at Camp Nou have yielded 61 victories. Throw in Copa del Rey games and Barcelona have won their last 21 home matches against La Real, by an aggregate score of 62-12.
It is an imposing record, and there's no reason to be overly hopeful for Imanol Alguacil's charges on Saturday. La Real haven't won away from home since early January and have been particularly meek recently in defeats to Sevilla (5-2) and Celta Vigo (3-1). They have been too reliant on the sparky Mikel Oyarzabal for inspiration, and may struggle to make an impression if Barça dominate possession.
Odds of 1.25 on the home win don't tempt, but the Odds Boost offer on the Sportsbookis interesting. Barça are 3.30 to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 - scorelines that have come in in almost half of their home league games so far (7 of 16).

Athletic can test struggling Madrid

Real Madrid v Athletic Club
Sunday, 15:15
Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
It's fair to assume Zinedine Zidane is building up a pretty accurate picture of where Real Madrid are at right now. The last four games have really underlined their level, and exposed the decline that has taken place since he left in the summer. Jammy home wins over Huesca and Eibar, plus defeat at Valencia and a hard-fought draw against Leganés: this is not the kind of stuff we expect from the reigning European champions.
They're unlikely to have it easy this weekend, either, with a resurgent Athletic Clubpitching up at the Bernabéu. Gaizka Garitano has restored belief to the Basque side over the last few months, and while they are still prone to the odd defensive brain melt, the attack has really started to click: Iñaki Williams is up to 12 league goals for the season - already his best ever return by a distance - and Iker Muniain is back to somewhere near his best.
Athletic were poor travellers under Toto Berizzo in the first part of the season, but they've shown far more grit since Garitano's arrival: the last eight away games have yielded 11 points, and only Valencia have beaten them by two clear goals. That makes them a good proposition on the Asian handicap, especially because Madrid have been so unconvincing of late.
Madrid are far too short at 1.51, so we're happy to side with Athletic +1.0 at odds of [2.13]. We're in profit if they avoid defeat, and get our money back if they lose by a single goal.
RECOMMENDED BETS
Back Iago Aspas to score in Celta v Girona at 2.00
Back Barcelona to beat Real Sociedad 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 at 3.30 (Sportsbook)
Back Athletic Club +1.0 against Real Madrid at [2.13]

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