Savage gives us his thoughts on the pick of the matches in Spain’s Primera División as El Clásico takes centre stage
Athletic Club v Atletico Madrid
Sat 15 Oct 20:00
These sides sit just a point apart in the table but appear to onlookers to have reached this stage by significantly different routes. The home side have a settled squad who look to be gelling well this term and are producing both good football and a fair few goals along the way. Their visitors on the other hand look less and less like the cohesive group of battle hardened warriors that Simeone has built his reputation on. Instead they seem to be searching for an identity which is yet to reveal itself. However, their search has at least led them to a pretty decent points haul (16) that sees them occupying the final Champions League spot at present. Atleti struggled to break down Club Brugge in midweek despite having numerous gilt edged chances to put the game beyond reach. They will face an equally resolute Los Leones defensive unit which they may find just as challenging to break down.
Real Madrid v Barcelona
Sun 16 Oct 15:15
This early season meeting of the giants of Spanish football could not come at a better time, for the neutrals at least. Both sides are in superb form domestically and have identical records (W8 D1) heading into this fixture at the Bernabéu on Sunday. Blaugrana have the edge over their bitter rivals on goal difference alone but an away win would certainly be a real statement of intent from Xavi’s side. The visitors have only conceded once so far this season despite enduring injuries to a number of their key defensive personnel. Los Blancos on the other hand have allowed a goal in every game with the exception of their 0-1 victory over Getafe on matchday 7. It is possible given the form that both of these teams are in that a deadlock will be the most likely outcome as both sides attacking flair will be cancelled out by their strength in defence.
Real Betis v Almería
Sun 16 Oct 20:00
Betis hit the gentlest of rocky patches in the last few weeks that has them not win their last two in the league (D1 L1) and draw midweek at home to Roma. A paltry return of just 10 goals in 8 matches points to why the home side have slipped out of the Top 4. However, their defence has been fairly miserly as well conceding just 5 so far. The visitors have had a fairly rough reintroduction to the top tier (W2 D1 L5) but crucial wins against Sevilla and Rayo Vallecano last time out has meant they find themselves outside the relegation places. An impressive showing against the champions on matchday 1 highlighted that there is some fight in this team and they could push Los Verdiblancos all the way. The home side will not have it all their own way.
Athletic Club v Atletico Madrid: Athletic Club to Win @ 3/2
Real Madrid v Barcelona: Draw @ 13/5
Real Betis v Almería: Real Betis and O2.5 @ 7/5
The above in a treble at a little over 20/1