Valencia – Getafe – Saturday 15.00 GMT
Gary Neville's Valencia (as we now have to call them!) play Getafe this week in his first home La Liga game, and they are good opponents for Gary to have to face in a must-win clash.
This season Getafe have accumulated just one point on their travels away from The Coliseum Alfonso Perez, with six defeats. I don't believe that their away points tally will improve this weekend either. Having scored just three goals and conceded 18 in those away games it is hard to see how they can turn it around when they visit the Mestalla.
Irrespective of who is the Valencia manager and how long he has been in charge – leaving aside any language issues – Valencia will just be too strong for Getafe. Gary could give his pre match team talk in Chinese and I would still expect Valencia to win this game!
I certainly don't expect it to be totally one-sided, though, but firmly believe that Valencia will succeed. Two tough games are up next with a trip to Villarreal followed by a home game against Real Madrid, so therefore they will realise the importance of gaining maximum points this weekend.
I'm expecting a 3-1 Valencia win.
Alvaro Negredo seems to be a player Gary is looking to rely on, and he got some match fitness and a goal under his belt in the 2-0 win midweek in the Copa del Rey tie against Barakaldo, so he could get amongst the goals.
Negredo to score at any time at Valencia to win – 3.45
Valencia to win 3-1 – 16.00
Real Madrid – Rayo Vallecano – Sunday 15.00 GMT
Rayo Vallecano's coach Paco Jemez has a cult-like status within La Liga.
Every season he builds a team from scratch with no money whatsoever. They beg steal and borrow whoever they can.
It does, therefore, take the new team a while to acknowledge and understand the demands of playing under him, but normally by the end of the season they are mid-table and have avoided any relegation issues. He then he has to start all over again the following season.
He is a coach who is obsessive with possession-based football. He is adamant that his team play out from the back at all costs, and those costs can be very high sometimes in terms of goals conceded!
Sub-standard, journeymen players who are happy to get a year of first team football in the top flight are probably not ideal for a coach to employ this style of play, but he does stick to his principles.
Consistently they will have the worst defensive record in the league. They rarely draw any games, and it really is win or bust all the time. Last season they won 15, drew four and lost 19. They conceded the most goals (68) but they accumulated 49 points in doing so, finishing 17 above relegation. Job done!
They are finding life tougher this season though and currently stand in the bottom three. Questions are being asked of Paco for the first time.
So with this approach in mind, what could possibly go wrong away to Real Madrid?!
It is well known that Real find knocking over teams of this type easily, particularly at home. It is games against tougher opponents where they are coming unstuck, not only this season but last season too.
You can make the same case for a similar debate about Cristiano Ronaldo this season. He’s scored 21 goals, but none of those came against Athletic Bilbao, Villarreal, PSG twice, Sevilla, Atletico or Barcelona, leaving him open to criticism that his goals are not decisive any more in big games.
With that in mind I expect both Real to absolutely hammer Rayo this week, with a huge goal tally. They’ll be looking to get back on track after last week’s defeat at Villarreal, and CR7 will be looking to add to his impressive goal tally against another minnow.
I'm assuming at least five goals, with maybe another hat trick for Ronaldo.
Real Madrid to score over 4.5 goals – 2.85
Ronaldo to score at hat-trick – 6.00
Malaga – Atletico Madrid – Sunday 19.30 GMT
It certainly was an important boost for Malaga that last weekend they not only scored their first away goals of the season but also picked up their first away win of the campaign, courtesy of a visit to hapless Rayo Vallecano.
Prior to that they have certainly been a talking point with their alarming lack of goals.
As well as being their first goals away from home, last week’s strikes were only their eighth and ninth of the season in total. They have only scored in four of the 15 games played.
Astonishingly though, Malaga do have the fourth best defensive record in La Liga having only conceded 14 goals, one less than Barcelona. This explains how they have somehow managed to gain 14 points and be out of the relegation zone.
Beleaguered manager Javi Gracia, who has seen all of the best attacking players sold in recent seasons, has shown signs of being under pressure and last week chose to leave top scorer Charles on the bench. He rectified that when Malaga were losing 1-0, and the Brazilian forward almost immediately scored. He has five of their nine goals.
In the opposite corner, Atletico continue to march on.
A good win last week against Athletic Bilbao saw them move level top with Barcelona. They have the best defensive record in the league unsurprisingly, and it is hard to imagine them conceding against Malaga.
After Malaga's win last week they will be allowed to be ultra-defensive by their fans in an attempt to shut out Simeone's side. If they could get a point by keeping a clean sheet it would be a great result for them.
But whilst this could be tight but I'm going to plump for a 2-0 win for Atletico.
Antoine Griezmann was decisive yet again last week, and Fernando Torres is still waiting and trying for that elusive 100th Atletico Madrid goal.
Could both get on the scoresheet this week?
Antoine Griezmann to score at any time – 2.55
Fernando Torres to score at any time – 3.30
Atletico to win 2-0 – 8.50