Seven games into the season, La Liga couldn't be much tighter at the top. Real Madrid, with 15 points, have a single point lead over Granada --yes, newly promoted Granada! - and Atletico Madrid. Meanwhile, Barcelona have 13, level on points with Real Sociedad and Sevilla.
Barcelona will host Sevilla in the final game of Matchweek 7, the standout fixture of the round. But Real Madrid are the biggest favorites, at home against Granada.
Karim Benzema has five goals in six La Liga appearances so far this season, one behind league leader Gerard Moreno. He also leads the league in shots with 23. Benzema did not score in Real Madrid's 2-2 draw with Club Brugge in the Champions League on Tuesday, but he got an assist and took five shots. He'll be my Tier 1 forward and captain this week.
Moreno has six goals in seven appearances, and is third in the league in shots with 21. But Villarreal will be playing at Osasuna, who were unbeaten at home -- 19 wins, two draws -- in winning the Segunda Division last season. They're also unbeaten at home so far this year, including a draw with Barcelona.
Lionel Messi also entered my thoughts, despite missing Barcelona's 2-0 victory at Getafe last weekend due to injury. Messi did play his first full 90 minutes of the season in Barca's 2-1 win over Inter Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday. He didn't score, but picked up an assist, plus four shots and six chances created. If the news reports from Spain indicate that Messi came through that game healthy and is likely to start against Sevilla on Sunday, I'll probably switch to him over Benzema.
The other Real Madrid player in my fantasy lineup this week will be Sergio Ramos, who scored a goal from open play against Club Brugge on Tuesday. More importantly though, he's on penalty kicks, which partly explains why he was the top defender in La Liga in points per game last season. Real Madrid are yet to draw a penalty this season, but it's only a matter of time.
Dani over Santi
Santi Cazorla is currently the top-scoring Tier 1 midfielder, after a fantastic start to the season. Cazorla already has four goals, is tied for the league lead in assists with three, and is fourth in chances created with 21. But, as mentioned above, I don't love Villarreal's matchup at Osasuna this week.
Instead I'm going with Dani Parejo, who's off to a pretty decent start himself, with three goals and an assist. He's also eighth in the league in passes completed, averaging 60.7 per game, which gives him a very high floor. Parejo's on penalties, too, although he missed one in a 3-0 loss to Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday. But Valencia are solid favorites at home against Alaves, who beat Mallorca 2-0 last week but had lost three straight games prior to that, and were winless in five.
Parejo's on penalties, too, by the way. And Valencia are solid favorites at home against Alaves, who beat Mallorca 2-0 last week but had lost three straight games prior to that, and were winless in five.
Moving on to Tier 2 forward, Real Betis' Loren Moron is the only other player in the league besides Moreno and Benzema with five or more goals. But Moron has taken just 10 shots, and has only played the full 90 minutes twice so far this season.
Mikel Oyarzabal has scored one fewer goal than Moron, but also has two assists, and has taken more than twice as many shots (21). And he's Real Sociedad's primary penalty-taker. Oyarzabal is my pick this week, at home against Getafe.
And teammate Martin Odegaard will be my Tier 2 midfielder. Odegaard has just been promoted from Tier 3, and deservedly so. He already has two goals and two assists, including an assist in each of the past two games, and is tied for the league lead in chances created with 23. Plus Getafe have been surprisingly leaky at the back in recent games, conceding two goals at home to Mallorca, three at Valencia, and then two more at home to Barcelona last week.
Oscar Rodriguez, Leganes (Tier 3 midfielder): Leganes are the only winless team left in La Liga, but they're favored at home over Levante, who have the second-worst defensive record in the league in terms of xG (expected goals) conceded at 13.39. Rodriguez did not score in a 1-0 loss at Granada last week, but had scored in back-to-back games prior to that. And he's tied for ninth in the league in shots with 17.
Pau Torres, Villarreal (Tier 2 defender): Torres is 16th in the league in passes completed, and fifth among all defenders, averaging 48.9 per game. He's been consistent, too, with at least 39 passes completed in each of the first seven games of the season. And Villarreal's opponents this week, Osasuna, are 15th in the league in possession at 45.1 percent.
Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid (Goalkeeper): Oblak has a league-leading five clean sheets in seven La Liga matches, and four in a row if you include Atletico Madrid's 2-0 win at Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday. And Atletico are solid favorites despite being away from home this weekend, at 10th-place Real Valladolid.