by JACK PRENTICE
La Liga leaders Real Madrid had to rely on a late comeback against Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata turned the tables on the Portuguese outfit in the last 5 minutes to win 2-1.
In comparison, Los Blancos have found the domestic season much easier this season, with three wins from three matches.
Real make what is certainly their friendlier journey up to Catalonia as they take on an Espanyol side who have been nothing if not unpredictable.
They have followed up an opening day 6-4 defeat to Sevilla with a 2-2 draw at home to Malaga from two goals up and a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad.
For Ronaldo, who has two in two since a return from injury, the prospect of facing a defence that has conceded nine goals in just three games is an appealing one, especially at a ground where he has in the past scored a hattrick.
Barcelona were able to recover from their surprise 2-1 home defeat to Deportivo Alaves at the weekend in style, as they thrashed Celtic 7-0 in the Champions League.
That leaves them in buoyant mood as they gear up to face another promoted team, with their visit to Leganes likely to be their least hostile visit to Madrid this season.
Their shock reverse to Alaves leaves them fifth in the fledgling La Liga table after three games, and Barcelona will have to be at their best to avoid another shock against a team for whom every point counts.
Leganes have already kept a clean sheet against Atletico Madrid this season and have no fear going into their fourth ever La Liga match, after making a solid start to life in the top flight.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta are expected to return for Luis Enrique’s La Liga champions, having only been substitutes against Alaves.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid play host to in-form Sporting Gijon off the back of a typically solid 1-0 victory away at PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League.
Atleti, who knocked out PSV in the quarter-finals last season, finally got their first victory of the season last weekend against Celta Vigo with a 4-0 thumping of Eduardo Berizzo’s side, having failed to beat either Alaves or Leganes.
Sporting, who stayed up on the final of last year, beat Leganes 2-1 on Sunday to move into an unlikely third position in La Liga after a strong start to the season, having already secured victory over and Athletic Bilbao and drawn 0-0 with Alaves.
Real Betis v Granada
Eibar v Sevilla
Las Palmas v Malaga
Osasuna v Celta Vigo
Villarreal v Real Sociedad
Athletic Bilbao v Valencia
Alaves v Deportivo