Last weekend saw Cristiano Ronaldo score five goals and become Real Madrid's all-time top scorer in La Liga as he inspired Los Blancos to a thumping 6-0 win at Espanyol.
Lionel Messi came off the bench for Barcelona to secure a 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid. The victory for Luis Enrique's men maintained their 100% start to their title-defending campaign. This weekend sees some simple home fixtures for the Spanish giants while Villarreal host Athletic Bilbao in a mouth-watering encounter. There’s lots of value to found this weekend so let’s get into it.
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Friday 18 September
Gameweek 4 kicks-off on Friday night with two of many teams who are yet to taste victory in the 2015/16 season. Getafe sit rock bottom after being the only side to have lost all three matches. They are coming off a 3-1 away loss to Athletic Bilbao. Getafe lost their only home match 2-1 to Granada and will need significant improvement against a Malaga side who have conceded just one goal thus far. Malaga have two home draws against Sevilla and Eibar and a narrow 1-0 loss away to Barcelona. They have been good defensively but have lacked bite up front. Getafe managed just sixteen goals from nineteen home games last season and will come up against a stubborn defence. Malaga are tipped for the away win at a valuable 19/10.
Saturday 19 September
Real Madrid 1/20
Ronaldo’s impressive five goal haul saw him move ahead of Alfredo Di Stefano and Raul in one afternoon to amass a total of 229 goals in 203 matches – one ahead of Raul, who needed 550 games to reach his tally. Granada started with a 3-1 home loss to Eibar but bounced back with a 2-1 win away to Getafe in their second match. However, they failed to continue that form as they again went down 3-1 at home last weekend, this time to Villarreal. Real have beaten Granada in seven of the eight meetings between the sides, recording an emphatic 9-1 victory in this fixture last season whilst winning 4-0 in the first round meeting. With a UEFA Champions League tie against Shakhtar Donetsk to contest midweek Madrid could come out the blocks slowly and backing the 2nd Half to Produce the Most Goals looks a good pick at 9/10.
Valencia finally got their first win of the season under their belt and in dramatic fashion with substitute Paco Alcacer netting a 90th minute winner to give his side a 1-0 victory at Sporting Gijon. Betis also picked up their first win of the season, managing to beat Real Sociedad 1-0 after going down to ten men just before half-time. The fixture was all about the return of Betis’ prodigal son, Joaquin, and he managed to play a pivotal part for the newly promoted side by assisting Ruben Castro for the only goal of the game. Valencia were held by Deportivo in their first home match but looking at their home record last season gives much confidence that they will continue winning ways as they won fifteen out of nineteen games at the Mestalla Stadium, losing just once.
Atletico Madrid 11/20
Eibar continued their impressive unbeaten run by holding Malaga to a goalless draw on the road. The minnows have managed impressive victories away to Granada and at home to Athletic Bilbao thus far. However, they face their toughest challenge yet as they welcome an Atletico Madrid side looking to get back on track after losing at home to Barcelona. Atletico won their first two matches and will be looking for a repeat of their 3-1 victory here last season. However, Eibar could employ some defensive tactics to keep up their unbeaten record and I’m going out on a limb here to predict a draw.
Real Sociedad 19/20
David Moyes' Real Sociedad remain winless from their opening three games of the season after losing 1-0 to a ten-man Betis side away from home last weekend. The Scot has been in charge of the San Sebastian club since November, when he successfully guided them away from relegation trouble to a twelfth-placed finish. But despite buying highly-rated forward Jonathas in the summer to pair with former Arsenal prodigy Carlos Vela, La Real have failed to breach their opponents’ defence even once in their last five games, including all three La Liga games so far this season. Espanyol are coming off a 6-0 annihilation from Real Madrid, which followed a 3-1 away loss at Villarreal. This one can go either way and with both sides expected to go all out in attack to find a win I’m tipping Over 2.5 Goals at a healthy 11/10.
Sunday 20 September
Celta Vigo 31/10
Europa League champions Sevilla are yet to taste victory but did at least score their first goal in their 1-1 away draw with Levante. Celta Vigo started the season with two good wins but drew 3-3 at home to newcomers Las Palmas last weekend in a match they should have walked away from with maximum points. The visitors played eighty minutes with ten men and managed to come back from two goals down to snatch two points from Celta. Sevilla won this match last season and have to be backed to get a win until, well, they get a win. It’s bound to happen soon.
Sporting Gijon 31/10
After two draws Deportivo went on to beat Rayo Vallecano 3-1 on the road last season. Their opponents this weekend also drew their first two matches, doing well to hold Real Madrid to a draw in one of them. However, they conceded a late goal to go down 1-0 at home to Valencia last weekend. They are yet to score a goal but do have a good defence. Under 2.5 Goals looks the way to go here at 11/20.
Athletic Bilbao 28/10
Villarreal started the season with a 1-1 away draw to Betis but have gone on to beat both Espanyol and Granada 3-1. Their opponents also bounced back with a 3-1 scoreline after losing to Barcelona and then at Eibar. Bilbao won the last meeting between the sides 4-0 at home back in May. After their morale boosting win last weekend I see them replicating their early season form that saw them oust Barcelona in the Super Cup and picking up the away win here.
Lionel Messi came off the bench to earn Barcelona a 2-1 victory at Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Messi started as a substitute following the birth of his second son on Friday and Barca fell behind after a tight first half at the Calderon when Fernando Torres sped clear to score in the 51st minute. Neymar levelled four minutes later when he curled a sumptuous free kick into the top corner and Messi’s presence in the second half was enough for the Catalans to outplay one of their title rivals. Levante managed a decent home draw against Sevilla last time out, coming from a goal down to claim the point. Their other two matches were poor performances that saw them lose at home to Celta Vigo and draw with newly promoted Las Palmas. These sides have met eighteen times with Levante failing to claim a single win, losing on fourteen occasions. Barca won both league meetings 5-0 last season. With no value in the home win back Barca to Win Both Halves at 11/20.
Las Palmas 9/10
Rayo Vallecano 3/1
Minnows Las Palmas have given a good account of themselves thus far, despite not winning a match. They lost just 1-0 at Atletico Madrid in their opener, drew with Levante at home and are coming off an inspirational performance against Celta Vigo. They went down to ten men when conceding a penalty in the eleventh minute and shortly after the penalty was scored they went 2-0 down. They managed to match Celta for the rest of the match and eventually came back from two goals down to earn a valiant 3-3 draw. They face a Rayo Vallecano side who have just a point to their name after losing their last two games by conceding goals in each match to Celta Vigo and Deportivo. Las Palmas had an excellent home record last season and are tipped to pick up their first win in the top flight.