Valencia kept their Spanish title campaign on track with a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday which left them a point behind second-placed Barcelona and four off pacesetters Real Madrid.
Valencia arrived on the back of a 7-0 rout of Genk in the Champions League and domestically they have now lost only once in seven games. That defeat came last weekend in a hard-fought battle to the end against Real Madrid.
On Saturday, they took the lead with the first real chance of the match when Jonas Goncalves had a speculative shot from distance which surprised goalkeeper David Cobeno on 21 minutes.
Valencia had their keeper Diego Alves to thank for two excellent blocks from Alejandro Arribas and Andrija Delibasic either side of half time before an excellent team move was finished off by Tino Costa in the 56th minute.
Substitute Raul Tamudo scored a consolation for Rayo six minutes from the end.
Later Real Madrid face local rivals Atletico with a three-point lead at the top of the table and looking for their 13 successive victory.
But coach Jose Mourinho is not expecting an easy ride against Atletico who are down in ninth place and have not won at the Bernabeu for 12 years.
"If you offered me 1-0 or 2-1 then I would accept it. Atletico have a very strong squad which is capable of fighting for a place in the Champions League and with more time and preparation also for the league title," said Mourinho.
"I am expecting to face a very strong team," added the coach whose side followed on their narrow win over Valencia with a 6-2 demolition of Dynamo Zagreb in the Champions League.
"If people think that we are going to score three or four goals and that it will be a match like that against Dynamo Zagreb then they are wrong. Here traditions and statistics go out of the window. In a derby anything can happen."
Barcelona will look to keep the pressure on the leaders against a Getafe side who have just one win in seven games.
With attention in Spain already turning to the first El Clasico in the league against Real Madrid next month, coach Barcelona Pep Guardiola looked to play it down saying it was not high on his list of priorities at the moment.
"I am focusing on the Getafe match and then the games after that. We will prepare for El Clasico when it arrives. It is not vital for us to be leaders ahead of that match and I am not obsessive about Real Madrid."
The bubble appears to have burst at Levante who have lost their last three games following their magnificent run which put them top of the table, and they will try and stop the slide on Sunday against Sporting Gijon.
Below them Malaga are at home to Villarreal and Sevilla travel Zaragoza.