The first Clásico of the season is upon us in La Liga and although the season is still young the result could have big implications on both clubs.
Real Madrid play host to Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night (kick-off 5:15pm) and the pressure is on the hosts and their coach Rafa Benitez.
Los Blancos trail their Catalan rivals by just three points and would move back to the summit on Saturday night with victory but former Liverpool and Chelsea coach Benitez is already under some pressure in the Spanish capital.
Madrid suffered only their first loss of the season last time out – a 3-2 defeat at Sevilla – but that was enough to allow Luis Enrique’s side to the top of the table thanks to their comfortable 3-0 home win against Villarreal.
Barca have reached the summit without star man Lionel Messi but the Argentine is expected to play some part in the match after recovering from injury.
Madrid may have home advantage but the momentum is with Barcelona and while odds of 33/20 for the away win look good, a draw at 53/20 looks even better given the need for Benitez to take a point at the very least from this match.
Goals are a given in the world’s greatest club rivalry, especially with Messi set to return and Karim Benzema set to bolster Madrid’s attack, and for both teams to score you can get odds of 2/5. For more appealing odds look to a 2-2 draw at 8/1.
Neymar scored early on in this fixture last season and with the form the Brazilian is in you would not bet against him opening the scoring this weekend either.
The former Santos man, alongside former Liverpool man Luis Suarez, has suitably plugged the gap left by the injured Messi and is 5/1 to score first. Suarez is a good bet to get on the scoresheet anytime at 6/5.
Madrid will be relying on the form of Cristiano Ronaldo going into the match. The Portuguese star has netted seven goals in 12 league matches against Barca and is 5/6 to find the back of the net anytime during the match.
If Madrid fail to secure all three points Benitez’s job will be on the line after just a matter of months while Barcelona will return to the Camp Nou with a job well done.
The rest of La Liga
Real Sociedad start life without former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes at the helm on Saturday afternoon when the Basque club host Sevilla in San Sebastian.
Moyes was sacked following a 2-0 defeat at Las Palmas and Eusebio has replaced him at the helm.
The change of coach could give La Real a much-needed boost but Sevilla should still prove too strong.
Unai Emery’s men inflicted a first loss of the campaign on Real Madrid in their last outing and odds of 13/8 for the Andalusians to leave with all three points look good.
A managerial change will make the Basque outfit a somewhat unknown quantity going into the weekend and with that in mind odds of 3/5 for both teams to score and 10/3 for a one-goal winning margin in favour of the visitors look good.
Espanyol and Malaga find themselves at the wrong end of the league table after some indifferent form of late and a draw looks the likely outcome of their clash at the Power8 Stadium on Saturday.
Odds of 85/40 are available for the teams to take a share of the spoils and given both are far from freescoring in front of goal odds of 6/1 look appealing for a goalless stalemate.
Las Palmas go into their clash at Valencia in buoyant mood following a confidence-boosting victory over Real Sociedad last time out but Los Che’s thumping 5-1 win at in-form Celta Vigo should stand Nuno Espirito Santo’s men in good stead for home win on Saturday night.
Valencia is 1/2 for the three points but a two-goal winning margin for the hosts offers better odds at 13/4.
Las Palmas netted twice last time out but Valencia’s defence has been stubborn on home soil lately, keeping clean sheets in their last four matches. Odds of 11/10 are available for another likely clean sheet.
Former Manchester City man Alvaro Negredo remains sidelined through injury for the hosts so top-scorer Paco Alcacer looks good odds to open the scoring at 10/3.
El Clásico may dominate the weekend but there’s also the small matter of the Galician derby on Saturday night when Deportivo La Coruna host Celta Vigo.
Both sides have started the season well but Celta will be desperate to bounce back from their 5-1 home loss against Valencia last time out. The Vigo club have looked strong at the start of the season and should be able to edge their neighbours out. Odds of 6/5 are available for a Celta win.
Depor have been no pushovers so far this season, however, and go into the game with just one defeat in their last seven matches. A share of the spoils has been their favorite outcome and odds of 95/40 are on offer for a draw.
Spain international Nolito has been Celta’s main man this season and the forward is 5/1 to break the deadlock with his eighth goal of the season.
Sporting Gijon host rock-bottom Levante on Sunday and the Asturian club will look at the fixture as crucial in bagging points to help secure their top-flight status.
Points have been hard to come by of late, with Sporting bagging just one win from their last four outings and the Valencia club taking just one point from theirs.
The hosts are favourite to pile more woe on Levante and secure victory at 23/20 but neither side has been in the goals, making 1-0 an attractive scoreline at 47/10.
Villarreal will be pleased to be back on home soil this weekend when they host Eibar on the back of six wins in their last seven matches at El Madrigal.
The teams are separated by just a point going into the meeting and although the visitors have the better form, home advantage could be crucial and the Yellow Submarines are 1/2 to sink the Basques.
Eibar are in good form going into the match thanks to back-to-back wins and José Luis Mendilibar’s men have found the back of the net in their last seven outings. That will make life tricky for Marcelino’s side but for both teams to find the back of the net you can get odds of 23/20.
Struggling Granada host on-song Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and the three points only look to be heading in one direction – back to the Basque Country.
The Andalusians sit second-from-bottom of the table while Ernesto Valverde’s men are on a rich vein of form going into the clash.
Athletic are 21/20 for the win but for the visitors to be leading at both half-time and full-time offers better odds at 43/20.
The Basque side have also scored at least twice in their last three matches and for them to leave Andalusia with a two-goal winning margin you can get odds of 49/20.
With a two-week break for the international matches under his belt, experienced forward Aritz Aduriz will be in good form to open the scoring at 4/1.
Real Betis will not make things easy for Atletico Madrid on Sunday night but Diego Simeone’s men should have enough in their locker to leave with the three points and keep the pressure on the top two.
Atleti are 8/13 to leave with the three points but they will be up against a Betis side with just two defeats in their last six outings and who have adjusted well to life back in the top flight.
Betis are also boosted by former Tottenham Hotspur man Rafael van der Vaart being fit and available after starting the season injured.
The hosts will be no pushovers but the capital club should well capable of leaving with victory by the odd goal. Odds of 23/10 are available for a one-goal winning margin for Simeone’s side.
Colombian forward Jackson Martinez is a doubt for Atleti and that will put more pressure on Antoine Griezmann to bag the goals. The Frenchman is more the capable of stepping up and is 21/20 to score anytime.
A Madrid derby tops the round of matches off on Monday night as the capital’s lesser known clubs Getafe and Rayo Vallecano lock horns.
Rayo’s form has picked up of late, with two wins in their last three matches, while their near neighbours have lost three matches in a row.
The hosts may have lost three in a row but Rayo have suffered problems on their travels, with both of their recent wins coming on home soil. With that in mind, odds of 9/4 for the draw look attractive.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.