With a new stadium and back into European domestic football's premier competition, there are plenty of reasons for smiles from Athletico Bilbao supporters...
Lionel Messi endured some testing times with Barcelona last season, but he was back smiling in scoring two against Elche. Tim Stannard gives us his rundown...
If a cash-strapped Spanish league really wanted to make a fortune, there is one very complex and wholly impractical way of going about this.
At the moment, La Liga has the battle of a millennium on its hands at the top of the table with three teams going for the title with eight games to go. For the past two months, each round of action has seen the storyline change. Seven days ago, Real Madrid were supposedly on the brink of pretty much clinching the league title with a Clásico win in the Santiago Bernabeu. But then Carlo Ancelotti's men contrived to lose that match and then the subsequent game at Sevilla, with Marcelo forced to apologise to fans because the normal Big Two excuse of blaming refereeing conspiracies simply wasn't going to fly.
A formerly dead-and-buried Barcelona crawled out from its pit to beat Real Madrid and then stroll past Celta Vigo on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Atlético Madrid stayed away from all the kerfuffle and did what thy do best - and that's win without any fuss and bother. The 1-0 victory over Granada in the Vicente Calderón gave Atleti a one-point lead over Barcelona and three (four if you count the Rojiblanco superior head-to-head record) over Real Madrid. All in all, it is a heck of a swing from the pre-Clásico world.
The narrative in Spain now has Real Madrid in a tizz over Cristiano Ronaldo playing with a ligament sprain - Marca normally conjures up an injury to explain poor form - and Gareth Bale changing his boots off the pitch during Sevilla's winner. Shots of Ronaldo looking miffed at Bale over a fluffed free-kick are also doing the rounds. Ancelotti was forced to dig in at Friday's press conference and remind the media that "Madrid are still fighting for the league title, something that didn't happen last year".
The weekend should see the sands shifting once again with a strong possibility of all three teams being tied on 73 at the top. Atlético are off to take on fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Although Simeone's side have now gone on a run of four league games without conceding a goal, Athletic are still a testing team in San Mamés and more than capable of withstanding the Madrid side's bustling physicality.
Barcelona could well face a night of frustration in the Catalan derby in Espanyol's home. The Cornella side are in ninth and 33 points behind but coach Javier Aguirre specialises in parking the bus and making life very awkward for opponents if required. "We don't feel inferior ahead of the game," said Espanyol's Mexican manager, whose side were the first to beat Atlético this year and held Barça to a narrow 1-0 win in the Camp Nou.
Real Madrid could rack up a morale-boosting century against visiting Rayo Vallecano. Their significantly poorer neighbours from the south of the city have been on a remarkable run of late, having won four from five to shake off the tag of relegation certainties. However, a love of trying to keep possession, controlling the game and leaving not a lot at the back leaves them in danger of the odd thrashing with Rayo having conceded four or more this year on eight occasions.
Now, back to how the Spanish League can really cash in on this. The best way would be to play all of these matches with a media black-out and get all the fans to sign waivers. Just a million or so should do it. The games could then be uploaded to Netflix and binge-watched at the end of May, as every single weekend currently has a cliff-hanger ending. leaving fans gasping for the next episode. This weekend is going to be no different.
Tim Stannard - he's on the Twitter