Savage shares his thoughts on the pick of the matches in Spain’s Primera División and as the top sides meet for the first time.
Real Madrid (1) v Real Betis (2)
Santiago Bernabéu, Sat 03 Sep 15:15 (Ireland/UK), 16:15 (Spain)
Despite being two of the league’s most entertaining teams these sides together do not provide the most riveting of encounters. There have been only 6 goals in their last 4 league meetings including two 0-0 draws. However, both sides currently have 100% records after 3 rounds. Los Verdiblancos have been heavily reliant on their two main men up top with Iglesias (4) and Juanmi (2) splitting the goals between themselves. This will of course be of concern to Pellegrini if he cannot keep these two fit. Madrid’s own terrific twosome has also hit the ground running this season with 5 goals between them. Unlike their visitors, their teammates have helped share the burden. It is likely that Los Blancos will be able to stifle their opponents in attack but they may not find too much on offer at the other end themselves. Madrid to win but the match totals to remain below 3.5 looks generous at 13/8.
Real Sociedad (8) v Atletico Madrid (6)
Reale Arena, Sat 03 Sep 17:30 (Ireland/UK), 18:30 (Spain)
These sides have equal records going into this one (W2 L1) but it has not always been comfortable to watch for either set of fans. The home side have reverted to type with their two wins featuring just 1 goal but surprisingly coming on the road where they are not always at their best. However, the 1-4 shellacking they received from Barcelona in week 2 will have reminded them that the gap the top teams in the league can be staggering at times. Their visitor’s mantle as one of those sides does not always appear to rest lightly on the players shoulders. This was evidenced in their turgid display against a struggling Valencia last time out. Without the one moment of magic from Griezmann there was little else for Simeone to be pleased about. Los Txuri-Urdin have not won at home at this season and they might have to wait another week to do so. Atletico to win at 31/20 looks good value here.
Sevilla (15) v Barcelona (3)
Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Sat 03 Sep 20:00 (Ireland/UK), 21:00 (Spain)
The opening day draw to Rayo Vallecano already looks to be a distant memory for Barcelona fans. Their side followed up by dismantling Sociedad (1-4) and Vallecano (4-0) respectively. Robert Lewandowski bagged himself a brace in both games to settle any doubts about his ability to transition to life in Spanish football. The German is causing headaches for backlines across the division and his forward partner Dembélé has been able to profit. The Frenchman at last appears to be showing glimmers of the potential for which his enormous transfer fee was paid all those years ago. He could definitely ask questions of this Sevilla defence. He looks overpriced at 7/2 for 2+ SOT, especially considering he has had 4 shots in each game this season. The hosts find themselves in an unenviable position with no wins and just a solitary point to show for their first 3 outings. The 2-1 loss to newcomers Almería will have been particularly gauling to Lopetegui’s men who no doubt have Champions League aspirations again this season. Blaugrana may not be feeling in a charitable mood when they visit Andalusia.
Madrid and Under 3.5 @ 13/8
Atletico to win @ 31/20
Ousmane Dembele 2+ SOT @ 7/2
The above in a treble at a little over 29/1.