Rivaldo Exclusive: Barcelona will have an easier trip than Madrid this weekend
Betfair Ambassador Rivaldo is back to talk about this weekend's La Liga's fixtures for the big three clubs and how tricky Basque atmospheres can be...
"[Barcelona] are playing well and I believe that, if they continue the same way after the international break, they could win comfortably at Anoeta against Real Sociedad this weekend - with all due respect to their Basque rivals."
Barcelona are already on form
Barcelona are predictably on form early into the new season. They are playing well and I believe that, if they continue the same way after the international break they could win comfortably at Anoeta against Real Sociedad this weekend - with all due respect to their Basque rivals.
A 2-1 win for Barcelona looks reasonable to me, probably with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez stepping up to score for Los Blaugrana.
The team is starting a tough part of their schedule with seven matches in just 23 days and you'll see Ernesto Valverde give more playing time to his new signings - probably in La Liga rather than the Champions League.
It's the right sort of game for Arthur, Malcom and Arturo Vidal to play in, but the club's focus is the Champions League and they should play their usual strongest starting XI in it. You'll see the new teammates getting more time in the league instead.
San Mamés atmosphere will make things tough for Real Madrid
The Basque stadiums are well-known for their hostile atmospheres but San Mamés is particularly hard for visitors and that will be reflected on the pitch this weekend, with Real Madrid possibly struggling to get a win.
If the Athletic Bilbao players do perform strongly, especially against the big clubs, it may be because they're trying to prove their talent and justify an eventual transfer to one of those clubs like Real Madrid.
Beating those prestigious clubs gets you noticed all over the world and that's important for them and the players as it could push their careers onto the next level. Anyway, Real Madrid is starting their season well and I think they can manage to overcome the expected difficulties in this match and claim a narrow win.
The team is dealing with Ronaldo's departure and, for now, they are not missing their former star. Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are taking responsibility in Ronaldo's absence and that's proving how strong the club is.
Yes, the team might end up missing Cristiano Ronaldo later in the season but so far, they are producing good football and solid results without him...
Atletico Madrid cannot keep dropping points
Atletico are already five points behind their rivals and they need to react quickly, even if it is the start of the season. They cannot allow such a gap between Barca or Madrid because it could become impossible to recover from and will be out of the title race.
So, they must stop dropping points away from home to get closer to the leaders as soon as possible, or they could just see Barca and Madrid running away with it.
Back Barcelona to win 2-1, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to score anytime @ around 26/1 (with Same Game Multi)
Back Real Madrid to win v Athletic Bilbao 1-0