by JACK PRENTICE
After a comfortable 4-0 drubbing of Deportivo La Coruna last weekend before a similarly easy victory over former coach Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, it’s a potentially tricky trip to Valencia for Barcelona.
In what was to be Phil Neville’s only game in charge of Los Che last season before brother Gary took over, these two drew 1-1 at the Mestalla, before an infamous 7-0 scoreline at the Nou Camp in the Copa Del Rey.
Barca are nursing an early season 100% away record but despite this are only fourth after slip ups at home including a defeat to Alaves.
Since a 0-0 draw with Atletico however, they have four straight league victories, and Cesare Prandelli’s Valencia may need the help of the Mestalla roar to abruptly end that run on Saturday.
Real Madrid demolished Real Betis last weekend by scoring six at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, before a 5-1 home win over Legia Warsaw at the Bernabeu in the Champions League on Tuesday.
On Sunday they play host to an Athletic Bilbao team who themselves were in European action, going down to a defeat to Belgian side Genk in the Europa League on Thursday, after winning the Basque Derby versus Real Sociedad on Sunday.
After a run of four straight draws that cost Los Blancos top spot in the process, Real Madrid are now back on song with 11 goals in two games and are on the back of a run of 23 games unbeaten.
Bilbao’s horrendous record at the Bernabeu is another reason to be cheerful for Real manager Zinedine Zidane, with Bilbao not beating Real Madrid since 2005.
Atletico Madrid remain top of the table but have a difficult assignment away at third placed Sevilla.
Both teams won on their travels in the Champions League in midweek as Atletico kept up their 100% record in the competition so far with victory over Sporting Lisbon, while Sevilla’s nicked a 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb.
Atletico have won five league matches in six after starting the season with disappointing draws at home to Alaves and away at Leganes, and beat bottom of the table Granada 7-1 at the weekend.
Meanwhile, Sevilla have adapted well to life under Jorge Sampaoli after Unai Emery left to manage PSG in the summer and find themselves just a point away from top spot.
Osasuna v Real Betis
Espanyol v Eibar
Real Sociedad v Alaves
Granada v Sporting Gijon
Celta Vigo v Deportivo
Villarreal v Las Palmas
Malaga v Leganes