Only Real Madrid and Barcelona had beaten Levante at the Ciutat de València prior to the visit of Granada. Perhaps, 'the frogs' knew it wasn't going to be their day when Nabil El Zhar saw his penalty saved by the in-form Roberto.
A half-time power-cut delayed the start of the second-half by 15 minutes, then Piti's free-kick in stoppage time gave the Andalusians the three points, despite Manuel Iturra standing in an offside position facing goalkeeper Keylor Navas just 10 yards away. The referee had in fact correctly awarded the goal as FIFA changed the ruling this summer. If the keeper is able to see an angle of the ball it means the attacking player is not classed as interfering.
Real Madrid 1.14, a draw 8.50, Real Sociedad 17.50
Carlo Ancelotti and Gigi Buffon were amongst those that waxed lyrically over the performance of Iker Casillas in the 2-2 draw with Juventus. The Juve keeper described his opposite number as "superb," with the Madrid manager admitting he was "decisive." Despite this Diego López will be reinstated between the sticks, as Ancelotti confirmed Casillas' current standing: "For him it is not easy to not play every game, but he is ready to do it and that means that he is very professional."
La Real grabbed their opening point in the Champions League in Tuesdays stalemate with Manchester United. They rode their luck at times, with United squandering three clear-cut chances to score, but more than matched their opponents in general build-up play. It's at this stage last season when they went on an incredible run that included just two league defeats until May. They have now won three out of their last four matches in La Liga.
Madrid are leaking goals at an astonishing rate for a team hoping to compete for trophies, averaging 1.3 goals conceded per game. The fearsome trio of Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema are showing signs of linking-up to devastating effect going forward, but question marks remain on their defensive duties. With that in mind it's 4.30 for Sociedad to score two goals or more.
The return to fitness of Xabi Alonso will certainly help bridge the gap between those at the back and the attackers. He made his first start for five and a half months against Real Valladolid. It would be a special occasion should he score the opener versus his old club and it's 15.00 for a rare Alonso strike.
Score Prediction: Real Madrid 4 Real Sociedad 2 (26.00)
Real Betis 12.75, a draw 6.50, Barcelona 1.22
It's proving to be a nightmare campaign for Real Betis, as they sit in the bottom three on the same points as those below them. The revolving door during the transfer window saw 14 players leave and another 14 arrived. Along with the drop in quality of personnel, they face the added strain of the Europa League. It's nothing unexpected for their coach: "Every day I have woken up with a new problem since I have been here," confessed Pepe Mel a few weeks ago.
The drought is officially over; Lionel Messi scored twice in the 3-1 win over Milan. It had lasted only 367 minutes, though you would presume it was days given the furore surrounding the event. Such are the standards and expectations he has now set. To continue where he left off and score first at the Benito Villamarín it's 3.15.
Barça look a force in attacking areas - with individuals playing at a high level - its just not the cohesive unit it once was. The ones that are enjoying themselves the most are those that have arrived via the chequebook; Alexis Sánchez has seven goals in ten games, Cesc Fàbregas is contributing as both a starter and from the bench, whilst Neymar is developing into the player that many believed he would. You can back the away team to win both halves at 2.45.
Score Prediction: Real Betis 0 Barcelona 4 (11.00)
Celta Vigo 1.92, a draw 3.60, Rayo Vallecano 4.00
If you pine for the days of undiluted tiki-taka then this might the game for you. These two clubs might be closer to relegation than winning Champions Leagues, but the ideology and philosophies remain. Celta manager Luis Enrique was schooled at Barcelona and is viewed as a future Camp Nou boss, whilst Carlo Ancelotti asked Rayo coach Paco Jémez if he could watch his side train in order to pick up some pointers. The teams’ flamboyant styles should make for an open and entertaining contest. Over 3.5 goals is 3.05 - there’s every chance Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff will be watching.
Score Prediction: Celta Vigo 2 Rayo Vallecano 2 (12.50)
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