Having proved their superiority over Real Madrid by winning 4-3 at the Bernabeu, and with the most appealing set of fixtures left to come of the three teams still in the title race, Barcelona look far too big at 7/4 to finish top of La Liga for the fifth time in six seasons.
‘El Clasico’ truly lived up to its billing in Spain’s capital as a Los Blancos side seemingly in the ascendency at 3-2 in front were seen off by two Lionel Messi penalties, which brought up the Argentine wizard’s second successive hat-trick, following defender Sergio Ramos’ third dismissal of the season.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men must now pick themselves up off the canvas for the trip to fifth-placed Sevilla, winners of seven of their last eight games in all competitions.
Of the eight matches Real have failed to win so far this term six have been on the road, and with Los Nervionenses’ fellow top-six challengers Real Sociedad also coming up away from home within the next fortnight, the 4/6 La Liga favourites look far from assured of a clear run to their 33rd title.
Meanwhile, after shock defeats at Sociedad and Real Valladolid looked to have put them out of the race, Barcelona have dusted themselves down and now sit just a point behind their latest victims and Atletico Madrid with nine games to go, of which six are against teams in the bottom half.
Indeed, fellow Barcelona-based outfit Espanyol, currently in 10th, are the highest-ranked side Los Blaugrana will face in their next four La Liga matches, which puts intense pressure on Cristiano Ronaldo and co to take maximum points from now on.
As head-to-head superiority trumps goal difference in Spain, Barcelona will triumph if they finish level on points with Real Madrid – and ahead of Atleti – having beaten Los Blancos home and away this term.
League leaders and 11/2 title outsiders Los Rojiblancos will take little joy from their neighbours’ loss as Diego Simeone’s side must travel to Bilbao and Valencia – who have lost once at the Mestalla since October – before their last match of the campaign at the Camp Nou.
The Madrid duo may both feel La Liga is theirs to lose, but this Barca team has been the dominant force in European club football for the past half decade and with so little between the three sides at the top as it stands, the champions look overpriced at 7/4 to retain their trophy.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.