Advantage Real Madrid.
The Anoeta and El Sadar are difficult stadiums for away sides, but few would have expected Barcelona and Atlético Madrid to lose last weekend. They now both trail top position by three points, after holding a five-point lead over Real at the winter break.
Kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday has become a familiar role to Los Blancos as the season has been progressing. They are more than happy to pile to the pressure on their rivals and now sit in first place for the first time under Carlo Ancelotti.
However, this weekend they face a huge test:
Atlético Madrid 3.55, draw 3.40, Real Madrid 2.10
Atlético Madrid President Enrique Cerezo is excited by the teams’ fourth meeting of the season: "It will be a good derby. I don’t know if we’ll see good football but at least there will be sportsmanship." He’s clearly forgetting that Diego Costa and Pepe will be in direct competition once more…
The Brazilian-born striker - who is hoping to get called-up for Spain this summer - has commented on his relationship with Sergio Ramos after their on-field spats. "We get on better and better. If I have to hit him, I hit him - if he has to hit me, he hits me. But all of that stays on the pitch," remarked Costa. The forward is 5.40 for the opening goal.
With the exception of Diego López replacing Iker Casillas as goalkeeper, it will be the same Real Madrid side that destroyed Schalke on Wednesday. Ramos, Luka Modrić and Cristiano Ronaldo all missed the league outing with Elche. The Portuguese winger has been out for three league matches and will be hoping to make up for lost time after scoring a brace against the Germans. For the first goal he is 4.20.
Nine out of the last 14 goals in these meetings have come in the opening 45 minutes across six matches. Over 1.5 goals in the first half is 2.55.
Score Prediction: Atlético Madrid 2 Real Madrid 2 (12.50)
Barcelona 1.05, draw 14.00, Almería 35.00
"La Real played well and I misread the game," explained Gerardo Martino after the shock defeat to Real Sociedad.
The manager made six changes to the team that had performed so well at the Etihad Stadium including a shift in formation. "Our idea of playing three up front meant dismantling our usual set-up in midfield. We thought that the physical exertion of the Manchester City game could present problems and we rotated so that every member of the squad would feel important," added Martino.
Alex Song was used as a second defensive midfielder next to Sergio Busquets. "We had spoken to Busquets about it - he’s more used to playing alongside another holding midfielder with the national side," Martino argued. At the Camp Nou against Almería the Argentine is likely to revert back to the usual 4-3-3 with Xavi pulling the strings once more.
It's three years since the Andalusians played at Barcelona. Midfielder Corona was on the scoresheet that day with a goal early in the second half, as Barcelona won 3-1. Almería have found goals hard to come by, but they did score twice in the final ten minutes to beat Atlético Madrid only three weeks ago.
With the uncertainty around which Barça will show-up, it's a decent 4.40 for Almería to score in the second half of the match.
Score Prediction: Barcelona 4 Almería 1 (14.00)
Villarreal 1.36, a draw 4.50, Real Betis 8.90
The Yellow Submarine got back to winning ways with the victory over Espanyol on Monday evening. They now sit four points from fourth spot and will be expecting to pick up all three points in this encounter. Their form at El Madrigal has been decent, with a surprise defeat to Celta Vigo breaking a run of three straight victories.
Real Betis won 2-0 at Russian side Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, setting up a Seville derby in the tournament. They don't travel well at all domestically though, picking up just two points on the road all season.
A Villarreal win is short at 1.36, but it's hard to look past it given the problems Verdiblancos face at present.
Score Prediction: Villarreal 3 Real Betis 1 (12.50)