La Liga Betting: Real Madrid can put pressure on Barca
Dan Fitch is on hand with the weekend La Liga tips and he fancies Real Madrid to take an early lead in the title race with a win against Espanyol.
Madrid will take initiative
Real Madrid1.22 v Espanyol 17.00; The Draw 7.60 Saturday 7 December, 12:00 Live on Premier Sports 1
Real Madrid's early kick off time on Saturday gives them the opportunity to go top of La Liga with a win over Mallorca and put the pressure on the current leaders Barcelona.
The two rivals both won last weekend, with Real Madrid beating Deportivo Alaves 2-1 away from home. Of the chasing pack, only Sevilla are keeping pace with Real and Barca, with a small gap now developing between the top three and the rest.
Espanyol are at the opposite end of the table, with a gap widening between themselves in the relegation zone and safety. Pablo Machin replaced David Gallego in early October, but it hasn't had much of an impact on their league results. Espanyol have only won one of their La Liga games under Machin (P7 W1 D1 L5).
Last weekend they lost 4-2 at home to Osasuna and it's likely that they'll taste defeat once more when they face Madrid. One area in which Espanyol have improved is their scoring rate, with the side having found the net in each of the last six games. With Real Madrid conceding in each of their last three, a home victory and both teams to score could deliver at 2.80.
Messi dragging Barcelona towards title fight
Barcelona1.16 v Mallorca 26.00; The Draw 9.40 Saturday 7 December, 20:00 Live on Premier Sports 2
A wonderful late goal from Lionel Messi gave Barcelona a vital win against Atletico Madrid last weekend and kept them top.
Barcelona are looking far from convincing at the moment, but as if we need reminding, Messi keeps proving that he has the individual talent to drag the team to glory. Crowned as the Ballon d'Or winner this week, the 32-year old shows no signs of slowing down, with nine goals in as many La Liga appearances this season.
On Saturday, Messi will go up against a Mallorca side currently just outside the relegation zone in 17th. Promoted last season via the play-offs, survival was always likely to be the main aim for Mallorca. Since pulling off a shock win against Real Madrid in October, they have only won one of their last six matches (D1 L4).
Mallorca have lost six of their away games in La Liga this season and this should be a routine win for Barcelona. Back Messi to be at the forefront by scoring two goals or more at 2.62.
Promoted side can frustrate Sevilla
Osasuna3.50 v Sevilla 2.24; The Draw 3.40 Sunday 8 December, 20:00 Live on Premier Sports 2
On Sunday third placed Sevilla will most likely be looking to reduce the gap at the top, should Real Madrid and Barcelona win as expected.
They are currently just a point behind the two frontrunners, who both have a game in hand due to the postponement of El Clasico. Sevilla are unbeaten in seven La Liga matches (W5 D2), winning each of the last three, including a 1-0 win at Leganes last weekend.
Considering that each of Sevilla's last three matches have come by a narrow one goal margin, there's reason to believe that last season's Segunda Division champions Osasuna can make this another difficult night for them. Currently ninth, Osasuna have only lost three of their 15 league matches this season (W5 D7 L3).
In their seven La Liga games at home, their recent defeat to Athletic Bilbao is their sole loss (W3 D3). No team has drawn more games than Osasuna this season and they have the capacity to frustrate Sevilla with another stalemate at 3.50.