Real Sociedad v Real Madrid - Saturday 15:00
The former Tottenham winger was on the scoresheet twice as Zinedine Zidane’s men came from 2-0 down to beat Rayo Vallecano last weekend, the latest of eight occasions (in 13 domestic matches) when the Welshman has stepped into the breach and landed this bet with Ronaldo out of the picture, a roll call that memorably includes the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona.
On his two previous visits to San Sebastian, Bale has scored the goal that put Madrid 2-0 up and though last season’s advantage was frittered away in a shambles as the Merengues went down 4-2, they should be trusted to close this one out much more professionally with the second leg of their Champions League tie against Manchester City looming.
Sociedad’s dramatic fightback 20 months ago was an aberration. Eleven of the last 13 meetings between these two have ended in defeat for the Basque club, with Madrid scoring 37 times in 11 games since La Real were last promoted. This should be routine. Correct score backers might want to consider the Madrid 2-0 and Madrird 3-0 options at 19/2 and 15/1 respectively.
Granada v Las Palmas - Saturday 21:00, Sky Sports Xtra
As it stands, Granada look relatively comfortable. They’re one point above the drop zone with a superior head-to-head record on all three teams below them. However, with games against Sevilla (away) and Barcelona (home) to follow, this might actually be their last opportunity to get some points on the board, a reality that brings its own pressure.
Spanish teams are traditionally forgiving at this time of year towards rivals in greater need, so Las Palmas might well turn up half-hearted. But just as likely, perhaps, is the notion that they wish to maintain their blistering recent run with the incentive of finishing above eighth-placed Valencia, which would be a real feather in the cap for the little islanders.
In the end, you have to let the prices decide. My ratings, with no allowances made for incentives, put the visitors at 12/5 here. By standard conversion, that also means Las Palmas -1 on the handicap should be no bigger than 13/2, yet Paddy Power offer 19/1. If the Amarillos egde ahead, Granada get desperate and things get messy. It’s really not that far-fetched.