by JACK PRENTICE
Lionel Messi scored twice and Neymar and Luis Suarez once each, as Barcelona secured an easy victory away at newly-promoted Leganes.
After a slip-up at home to Alaves last weekend in an embarrassing defeat for the Catalans, Luis Enrique included his big guns from the start to ensure no such problems against another of the pre-season relegation favourites.
Rafinha scored the other in a 5-1 thrashing in Madrid, as Leganes got a goal back late on through Gabriel’s excellent free-kick.
Real Madrid left Espanyol with a record-equalling 16th consecutive La Liga victory, courtesy of a 2-0 cruise in Catalonia.
With both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo left in Madrid with slight injuries, it was left to Zinedine Zidane’s bit part players to maintain Real’s 100% winning record.
And it was one of those bit part players in James Rodriguez who opened the scoring minutes before half-time.
The Colombian played a one-two with Karim Benzema before gliding past two defenders and firing into the bottom corner from distance.
Benzema was himself to get on the scoresheet in the second half, finishing a Lucas Vazquez cross with aplomb.
Atletico Madrid shot down Sporting Gijon’s impressive start to the season in emphatic style with a 5-0 victory at the Vicente Calderon.
The hosts were 2-0 up inside five minutes as Antoine Griezmann notched the first of his two goals and Kevin Gameiro got his second league goal for the club.
Griezmann got his second after half an hour before the second half turned into the Fernando Torres show.
The experienced striker, who appears to have regained his lethal streak since his return to the club, bagged two goals late on to complete the rout.
Elsewhere, Las Palmas recovered from their first defeat of the season last week to see off Malaga 1-0, and Eibar drew 1-1 with Sevilla despite being down to nine men.
Real Betis 2-2 Granada
Osasuna 0-0 Celta Vigo
Villarreal 2-1 Real Sociedad
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Valencia
Alaves 0-0 Deportivo
La Liga’s first batch of midweek games sees two title favourites go head-to-head at the Nou Camp, with Atletico Madrid looking for their first win in Barcelona in ten years.
Following the fruitful return of the Messi-Suarez-Neymar partnership at Leganes, Luis Enrique is expected to name an unchanged side for the titanic clash.
Likewise, Diego Simeone could name an unchanged side, although Fernando Torres may start following his two-goal cameo on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Real Madrid host a Villarreal side that beat Real Sociedad 2-1 at El Madrigal on Sunday.
Zinedine Zidane is likely to include Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale after resting them for the 2-0 victory over Espanyol at the weekend.
In another midweek match, Sevilla take on Real Betis in the Seville Derby at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Sevilla drew 1-1 with Eibar at the weekend, while Betis came from 2-0 down to draw with fellow Andalusian club Granada.
Malaga v Real Betis
Celta Vigo v Sporting
Granada v Athletic Bilbao
Valencia v Alaves
Deportivo v Leganes
Osasuna v Espanyol
Real Sociedad v Las Palmas