On Saturday evening it's the biggest game of the season to date, but despite not being involved Real Madrid are doing their best to grab all the attention.
Spanish radio network Cadena SER claimed Álvaro Arbeloa was responsible for an injury to record purchase Gareth Bale back in October, with the club hiding the cause due to the right-back’s history of accidentally hurting his fellow professionals.
“Actually, I hit him with my car. But he's strong, he's still alive,” responded Arbeloa comically via Twitter.
To the action:
Atlético Madrid 3.25, Draw 3.35, Barcelona 2.15
The La Liga schedule allowed each side to warm-up before the battle of the country’s top two teams. With both clubs matching each other in terms of wins and points after 18 'Jornada's', the head-to-heads are crucial.
Atlético were disappointed to concede a late goal against Valencia in the Copa Del Rey on Tuesday night, although they are more than confident they’ll see off the opposition in the return leg. “I am proud of these players vying to be league champions and to win the cup," mused manager Diego Simeone at the final whistle.
Diego Costa was placed out on the wing in the Supercopa meetings between these two to stop Jordi Alba's forward runs. The Brazilian-born naturalised Spaniard has 19 league goals this term, and is a decent shout for the first goal at 5.50 whichever position he starts the match.
In the other corner though, Lionel Messi is back, arriving from the bench midway through the second half of the win versus Getafe. Former Barça President José Luis Núñez summed it up nicely: "He scored two goals after two months injured. What more can you ask for?"
For Messi to deliver more and open the scoring it's 4.30.
Pedro and Alexis Sanchez have been in great scoring form in his absence, but one of them is likely to make way now that Neymar has recovered from illness.
Barcelona have won 2-1 on the last three visits to the Vicente Calderón, having won just once in the previous nine at the ground. Another Barça win by that scoreline will fetch you 8.50.
Averaging over 3.5 goals a game at home, Los Colchoneros are more likely to bag over 1.5 when playing superior opposition, and that's at 2.40.
Score Prediction: Atlético Madrid 2 Barcelona 2 (10.00)
Espanyol 7.80, Draw 5.25, Real Madrid 1.33
It's been a busy week for Los Blancos. Fans were pleased with the announcement of one player staying, but were displaying negativity towards another. Xabi Alonso renewed his contract until 2016 much to the pleasure of his teammates.
Then Ángel Di María's tribute to Michael Jackson brought outrage. His substitution at Celta Vigo on Monday saw the winger accused of making an offensive expression. "It's a natural gesture any man makes, especially when you have been running," explains the Argentine on the clubs official TV channel. A section of the support booed when his name was announced as a substitute in the Copa Del Rey.
Carlo Ancelotti remained supportive, but understood the fans’ dissatisfaction: "If he made the gesture to me, there’s no problem. If he did it to the fans, then it’s a bigger error, but life goes on."
Espanyol are a difficult proposition at the Cornellà-El Prat, with just three defeats this season. In recent meetings the club has managed to hold their opposition, scoring first and leading at half-time on both occasions. For Espanyol to win the first half and Real Madrid the match it's a rewarding 16.00.
Score Prediction: Espanyol 1 Real Madrid 3 (10.00)
Elche 3.20, Draw 3.30, Sevilla 2.20
Things are starting to gel at Sevilla. Unai Emery's team has been on the receiving end of just one defeat in 11 and that was too Real Madrid.
Eight goals and six assists has made Ivan Rakitić one of the hottest properties in Europe, with the Croatian essential to their push for Champions League football.
Elche sit a point from safety, but things are getting worse as they are without a win in four matches. It's three away wins in a row for Sevilla though, having gone over a year without three points on the road beforehand.
Back Sevilla to win at 2.20 and both teams to score at 1.85 as they always concede in away games, except for the season opening trip to Levante.
Score Prediction: Elche 1 Sevilla 3 (18.00)