Savage gives us his thoughts on the pick of the matches in Spain’s Primera División as a huge top 4 clash takes top billing
Villarreal v Real Madrid
Sat 07 Jan 15:15
Villarreal have been having one of their signature seasons so far. They have played some very attractive football especially against the teams lower down. However, against the top sides they have really struggled. Of the five matches they have played against the teams above them in the table they have managed just one win (W1 D0 L4) which came against Atleti on matchday 2. Their visitors will relish the prospect of continuing this worrying trend as they make their first trip to the revamped Estadio de la Cerámica. Two late goals by the returning Karim Benezma secured all three points for Los Blancos last time out. Madrid fans will be delighted that his recent injury scare which kept him out of the World Cup has not diminished his goal scoring exploits domestically. This fixture has produced a string of draws in recent years but Real should just about shade this one.
Rayo Vallecano v Real Betis
Sun 08 Jan 15:15
As was the case last season, Vallecano are once again very impressive in Vallecas. 4 wins from 7 matches, including taking the scalp of nearby rivals Real, has been an excellent return so far (W4 D2 L1). Unfortunately, the home side’s inability to come away with 3 points in 5 drawn games has ultimately cost them a chance at a European place. However, they sit just 2 points off their visitors who occupy the Conference League spot in 6th. Los Verdiblancos away form has been dismal to say the least with only 2 wins from 7 (W2 D2 L3). That statistic is worrying enough but their lack of goals is even more concerning as they failed to score in 4 of those road trips. Rayo will be eager to try and leapfrog their opponents in the standings and recent form would suggest they have more than a decent shot in this one.
Atlético Madrid v Barcelona
Sun 08 Nov 20:00
The Blaugrana may well come to rue not claiming all three points in the recent Barcelona derby in which 18 cards were handed out between the two sides. Their lead over their bitter rivals evaporated and goal difference alone keeps them at the summit. Prior to the World Cup break the away side had been in scintillating form. 11 victories punctuated by just a single loss to Real in that time. The bad news for their hosts is that they have managed to score at least one in every league match with the exception of their opening day draw with Rayo. Atlético have blown hot and cold so far. Their longest winning run extended to just 3 matches back in October. They sit just 2 points behind Sociedad in third but a further 9 behind their next opponents. Los Colchoneros have struggled badly for form whereas their visitors look a well-oiled machine of late.
Villarreal v Real Madrid – Madrid to Win @ 11/10
Rayo Vallecano v Real Betis – Rayo Vallecano to Win @ 13/10
Atlético Madrid v Barcelona – Barcelona and Over 1.5 @ 9/5
The above in a treble @ 12/1