Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
Four wins in as many games last season for Barcelona against Diego Simeone's team was an impressive return against very difficult opponents. You will probably remember the iconic photograph of all three goalscorers - Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez - celebrating together during their 3-1 victory at the Nou Camp in their first La Liga meeting of the season.
It certainly set the tone for a dominating set of results for Luis Enrique's team. Further wins followed in the form of a 1-0 away victory in the league, followed by a 1-0 home win in the Copa del Rey and a 3-2 away victory in the second leg. Messi and Neymar particularly enjoyed playing against Atletico last season, scoring three each in the various meetings, which in total accumulated an 8-3 aggregate success over four games for Barcelona.
However, that was last season's Atletico Madrid. I'm expecting much better from Diego Simeone's team this season in general, not only against Barcelona.
Atletico have gotten off to a very good start, in what has been a difficult opening to the 2015-16 campaign. A standard 1-0 home win against newly promoted Las Palmas, followed by an outstanding 3-0 away victory at Sevilla, showed all the attributes of the Simeone side that were champions not so long ago. They will now relish taking on Barcelona with their new look vibrant attack. Atletico have gone for youth and pace up top with their productive summer transfer spree, and it looks to be paying off.
They have not conceded yet and will look to be dogged, determined and well-drilled to stop Barca scoring so freely this term, and they will certainly carry much more of a threat when they do look to break on the counter attack.
The return of young Oliver Torres from his loan spell at Porto looks to be an inspired decision, as he fulfils the role vacated by Arda Turan's departure to Barcelona. Antoine Griezman will definitely start the game but who will line up alongside him? Will it be Fernando Torres or Jackson Martinez? I'm guessing that Simeone goes for Torres from the start and Martinez for the last 30 minutes, it worked well at Sevilla, with Martinez coming on and scoring his 1st goal for Atletico Madrid.
A few injury issues for Barcelona going into this game. Claudio Bravo will be missing, so Ter Stegen will start in goal, not much difference in all honesty but there other issues in defence for Barca. Gerard Pique is still suspended pending a late appeal, and who will play right back? Dani Alves has been injured, as has his replacement Adriano. Midfielder Sergi Roberto has been filling in with few dramas defensively but he hasn't really had to defend as of yet this season.
I'm really looking forward to this exciting game and I eagerly wait evaluating Diego Simeone's new-look Atletico Madrid against last season's Champions.
In saying all that, I wouldn't be surprised to see Atletico win 1-0, perhaps with a Diego Godin goal from a set piece, we will then know that Atletico are back on track.
Atletico Madrid to win 1-0 10.50
Diego Godin to score first 24.00
Espanyol v Real Madrid
This could prove to be a difficult encounter for Real Madrid against tough opponents who enjoy the underdog role. Espanyol have the benefit of having had two weeks to prepare for this game with very few, if any players away on International duty.
Sergi has certainly implemented a tremendous work ethic within his squad of players, who will give everything they have got against Real Madrid. Will that be enough? Probably not. Real will be buoyed by their last league game, which was a resounding 5-0 victory over Real Betis – Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez with two spectacular goals each and Karim Benzema completing the scoring.
If Espanyol are still in a position to compete going into the final third of the game they will fight to the very end, in exactly the same manner that Sporting Gijon did in Real Madrid's first away game of the season, which ended 0-0.
Real will go all out to get an early goal to ease any apprehension, expect a flying start, especially from Ronaldo, who has not scored so far this season.
I'm expecting a Real Madrid victory and, of course, a Ronaldo goal but it might not be easy.
Real Madrid to win 1.28
Ronaldo to score first 3.30
Real Betis v Real Sociedad
An ideal pick-me-up for Pepe Mel after the thrashing that Real Betis suffered at Real Madrid? Three new attacking players signed by Betis are now available to be selected for the game against Real Sociedad and David Moyes.
Most excitingly, the return of Joaquín from Fiorentina. 20-000 spectators made their way down to the Benito Villamarin stadium to welcome their hero back. The 34-year-old returns nine years after leaving the club, and it will certainly be an emotional return for the game this weekend. Note the plaster cast that he will be playing with on his injured arm this week, this occurred when he thought the deal wasn't going to go through and he smashed his hand onto a table in frustration ,breaking it in two places.
That aside, how will Mel fit him in alongside Rafael Van De Vaart, who is expected to also make his debut after injury, along with Ricky van Wolfswinkel, signed from Norwich City? The prolific Ruben Castro has to lead the line up front, so it will hopefully be all-out attack from Real Betis.
In fairness, they might only need the one goal to beat Real Sociedad, who have started the season with two 0-0 draws, away to Deportivo and at home to Sporting Gijon. Away form has been an ongoing issue for Real Sociedad, and David Moyes is still looking to turn that around for the better (two away wins in 16 months, both under Moyes). But it is surprising that they are not more productive in terms of scoring, as I do believe the talent is there.
With the likes of Carlos Vela, Jonathas, Sergio Canales, Pardo, Prieto, Castro and Bruma, the options are certainly there for Moyes but it has to happen sooner rather than later.
I am going for an emotional, passionate return for Joaquin and a Betis victory, Ruben Castro still the favourite to score though.
Real Betis to win 1-0 8.50
Ruben Castro to score first 5.30