Real Madrid sit like a coiled cobra in the La Liga title race

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The Spanish title race has so often been a two-horse affair, with Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating all-comers in their never-ending quest to be crowned domestic champions. But this season has seen a third nag enter the fray.

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have muscled their way into the Barca-Madrid duopoly and have done so with intriguing aplomb, matching the Nou Camp giants every step of the way at the top of the table after 19 matches.

So when the red and white half of Madrid battled the Blaugrana at home it was seen as a pivotal point of the season, a chance for one team to break free from the rope that has tied both side’s legs together so far.

Instead, the 0-0 draw that ensued only helped one side in the title-race, with Real’s 1-0 victory over Espanyol the following day allowing Carlo Ancelotti’s team to close to within one win of the leading pair.

The beauty of this La Liga season, from a betting point of view, is that Atletico’s strong start, coupled with Real’s defeats to both title rivals, has inflated the odds.

Los Blancos are still available at 5/2 to win the title this season, a price that looks terrific value considering their form and the now minuscule gap that sets them adrift at the top.

It’s been nine league games since the Bernabeu outfit last tasted defeat, with maximum points added to their tally in all but one of those unbeaten outings.

That form has seen them claw the deficit at the league’s summit back to just three points, with games against both Barca and Atletico, who are respective 8/15 and 11/2 shots for league glory, laying in wait at the back end of the season.

The trip to Estadio Vicente Calderon in early March is Ancelotti’s first chance to level things at the top of the table, providing no other slip ups occur.

Given that they’ve been victorious in all of their last seven trips, there isn’t a better time to lump on to Cristiano Ronaldo and co’s wonderful price to pip both rivals to the league-winning post.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.