Rafa Benitez may have silenced some of his critics by guiding Real Madrid to a record-equaling 8-0 victory over Malmo in the Champions League on Tuesday, but that result will count for nothing unless his men can build on the victory with three La Liga points at Villarreal on Sunday night.
Madrid followed up their 4-0 home loss in El Classic and the embarrassment of being kicked out of the Copa del Rey due to fielding an ineligible player with a 4-1 home win against Getafe in La Liga last time out and the midweek demolition of the Swedish side.
A tougher test lies in wait at El Madrigal on Sunday and if Madrid can make it six wins on the spin those recent problems will be somewhat of a distant nightmare – at least for now.
In Villarreal Madrid will face a side who started the season well but who have been hit and miss in recent weeks.
With Gareth Bale, captain Sergio Ramos and Marcelo amongst the names set to return to the starting line-up this weekend, Madrid look good for the win at odds of 4/6.
Los Blanco’s enjoyed a 2-0 win at El Madrigal last season and the same scoreline offers better odds of 15/2. Madrid also won their last match on their travels, at Eibar, by the same scoreline.
Cristiano Ronaldo netted a record four goals against Malmo in midweek and the club’s Portuguese star is 14/5 to break the deadlock against Marcelino’s men this weekend.
Karim Benzema may have been provisionally suspended by France but the former Lyon man is in good form for Los Blancos and is 5/4 to score anytime during the match after netting a midweek hat-trick.
Barcelona out to build on magnificent seven home wins against Deportivo
Barcelona’s seven-match winning run came to an end at Valencia last weekend and after a second consecutive 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen in Europe in midweek, Luis Enrique’s side will look for a return to winning ways against Deportivo at Camp Nou.
The Catalans will be without the injured Neymar for the clash but with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez firing on all cylinders the league leaders should have few problems in seeing off the side from Galicia on Saturday afternoon.
Barca are 1/12 for the home win but a large margin of victory offers the more attractive odds. Depor may be enjoying a good season but with seven consecutive home La Liga wins, the hosts are expected to cruise through the match. Odds of 51/10 are available for a 4-0 home win.
Top-scorer Neymar may be absent for Barcelona but former Liverpool man Suarez is expected to start and is 14/5 to open the scoring with his 14th goal of the season.
Neville set for first La Liga match in charge of Valencia
Gary Neville will take charge of Valencia for the first time in La Liga this weekend when his side visit Eibar on Sunday.
The Manchester United legend was in the dugout for the first time in midweek as Los Che bowed out of the Champions League with a 2-0 home loss against Lyon.
Neville will have been inspired by his side’s performance in the 1-1 draw with Barcelona at Mestalla last weekend, however, and if his side shows the same fight in the Basque Country this weekend they should be able to leave with maximum points.
Valencia are 15/8 for the win but Ipurua is not an easy place to visit. With that in mind, a one-goal winning margin for the visitors offers slightly better odds of 13/4.
Spain international Paco Alcacer has started both matches since Neville’s arrival and as Valencia’s top scorer with six goals in La Liga so far, he looks a good bet to score the first goal at odds of 5/1.
The rest of La Liga
Getafe and Real Sociedad kick Jornada 15 off on Friday night in the Spanish capital.
The hosts have won just won of their last five league matches and they welcome a Basque outfit whose performances and results have improved since replacing David Moyes with Eusebio.
Fran Escriba’s side have taken four points from their last two home matches, however, including a 2-0 win against Villarreal last time out at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
The match looks evenly poised and a share of the spoils looks the most likely outcome at 43/20.
Travel-shy Espanyol visit Celta Vigo on Saturday afternoon with a home win on the cards at Balaidos.
The Catalan side have fallen to convincing defeats in their last three away matches while Celta have enjoyed life on home soil so far this term.
Celta are 8/15 to collect all three points but given Espanyol’s struggles on their travels the better odds are with the Galicians to be winning at half-time and full-time. For that, odds of 13/5 are on offer.
Top-scorer Nolito found the back of the net in Celta’s last home match, a 2-1 win against Sporting Gijon, and the Spain international is 7/2 to break the deadlock this weekend.
Levante and Granada are two sides expected to be battling relegation come the end of the season and the pair meet in Valencia this weekend.
Both sides are struggling for form, with Levante winning one of their last five matches and Granada picking up three points in just one of their last 12.
Three points will be a crucial confidence booster for either club but both are expected to cancel each other out. Odds of 11/5 are available for the draw.
Sevilla host Sporting Gijon at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday night and Unai Emery’s men have perhaps hit their best spell of form of the season going into the match.
Emery will have to ensure his men don’t have tired legs following the effort they put into a 1-0 Champions League win against Juventus on home soil in midweek. That followed a point at Deportivo in the league and a home win against Valencia.
Sporting enjoyed a much-needed three points last time out against Las Palmas but the test this weekend will be much tougher.
The Andalusians are 4/11 for the win but longer odds are available for a wide margin of victory. Given Sevilla’s home success and Sporting’s travel troubles, a winning margin of more than two goals looks attractive with odds of 39/20.
Fernando Llorente had to be the match winner against his former club in midweek and the former Juventus man is 7/2 to open the scoring on Saturday.
Rock-bottom Las Palmas host Real Betis on Saturday night in desperate need for points to give their season a shot in the arm.
The Gran Canaria club have won two of their last three home matches but they still sit bottom of the table, and with Betis undefeated in their last six matches on their travels, the hosts will find the going tough this weekend.
Pepe Mel’s men have also enjoyed back-to-back victories on their travels, against struggling clubs in Malaga and Levante. A third win on the spin offers odds of 53/20 and for another 1-0 scoreline for Betis you can get odds of 31/4.
Two sides struggling for form meet at Vallecas on Sunday lunchtime as Rayo Vallecano host Malaga.
Rayo have been highly unpredictable throughout the season while Malaga have failed to win in their last six matches in all competitions, including a Copa del Rey defeat at lower-division Mirandes.
Both of Malaga’s wins have come on home soil and that leaves Paco Jemez’s men slight favourites at 13/10. Rayo did win their last match on home soil, albeit in the Copa del Rey against Getafe.
Top-scorer Javi Guerra will be the man charged with guiding the hosts to victory. The striker is 9/2 to open the scoring.
Atletico Madrid against Athletic Bilbao always offers up a tasty contest and the good form of both teams going into Sunday’s match only adds to the occasions.
Atleti sit second in the table and their form over the last six matches has been as good as leaders Barcelona. Athletic’s has been similarly good with four wins from their last six moving them up to seventh in the table.
Expect the match to be hard-fought and intense given the style of play of both clubs but Atleti’s form, especially at the Vicente Calderon, should keep their winning momentum going.
Diego Simeone’s side are 8/13 for the win but that close-fought nature of the game is expected to make the match a tight one. A one-goal winning margin for Atleti offers more attractive odds of 11/5. A 2-1 home win brings even better odds of 7/1.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.