IT has been a difficult week for Real Madrid and Barcelona but positive signals are coming out of the camps ahead of this weekend's La Liga fixtures.
Madrid have seen their 22-game winning streak halted after back-to-back defeats to Valencia then Atletico Madrid in the SPanosh Cup – it's three if you include the friendly loss to AC Milan.
Barcelona, last weekend at Sociedad when the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar were benched, bounced back with a 5-0 rout of Elche in the Copa del Rey on Thursday and it looks as if anyone leaves it will be coach Luis Enrique and not the Argentine superstar.
Several players – including Messi – are said to be unhappy with Enrique's methods and Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu announced on Wednesday his decision to bring the club's elections forward by 12 months in order to recover “stability”.
Messi and Neymar returned to fire Barca to a convincing win over Elche and afterwards Enrique insisted all is well behind the scenes.
Barca face a testing Sunday evening with champions Atletico Madrid the visitors to the Nou Camp, buoyed by that victory over Real. Our friends at WeLoveBetting have already claimed Barca at 3-5 is the worst price he's seen this season and I tend to agree with Atletico so strong against title challengers.
Atletico are level on points with Barca, one behind Real, so Diego Simeone's men another chance to make a mark in the title race. Simeone's men are a biggest 21-4 at McBookie and BetVictor but the bet that interests me is Atletico draw no bet at 18-5 with 888sport.
Valencia sit fourth after their win over Madrid but need a win away to Celta Vigo on Saturday with Sevilla, one point behind, still having a game in hand. Vigo have lost six in a row to nil and Valencia look a decent shout at 10-11 with William Hill.
Sevilla are away to Almeria on Sunday. Villarreal, sixth and three points behind Valencia, have a difficult task as they head to seventh-placed Malaga.
The weekend begins with a battle of two teams hovering just above the drop zone, with Levante hosting Deportivo La Coruna on Friday night.
Rock-bottom Elche must shake off their Nou Camp thrashing before facing Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, while Granada host Real Sociedad and Cordoba, 18th, head to Rayo Vallecano on Monday night.
The weekend's fixtures are completed by Saturday's mid-table clash between Eibar and Getafe.
I'll put up some La Liga tips if I get a chance but any thoughts are welcomed on this post – and check out Scott Allott's European tips post and I see he's also highlighted Valencia.