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La LIga Champions

Barcelona thrashed Real Madrid to move top of La Liga and become clear favourites for a third consecutive title. But do they represent good value?

Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi


Barcelona played the sort of football only they are capable of on Monday night as they dismantled Jose Mourinho’s Los Blancos in the Nou Camp, scoring five stunning goals without reply.

The bookies have responded by installing them as clear favourites for the first time this term in what had previously been a two-horse race. This is the sixth time in seven years that Barca have lead after 13 games, and four of the previous five times they’ve done so they finished as champions.

With 34 points Barcelona have more than any other side in the previous 13 seasons at this stage – eclipsing their 33 a year ago – while Real also have a record for a team in second. Further back – a long way back – Villarreal, Espanyol and Valencia are all very close to record 13-game point totals for their respective positions since 1997/98.

The Big Two have turned a very competitive league 10 years ago into a division decided by two head-to-head matches in the past couple of years; as since 2008/09 Barca have averaged 2.47 PPG in 89 games (increasing to 2.58 excluding the final six games of 08/09 when the title was won) while Real Madrid have earned 2.43 PPG in 74 games since the first El Clasico that season (increasing to 2.61 PPG when ignoring their defeats in the final five games of 08/09 after the title had gone).

In five of the past six seasons the Big Two have finished as the top two, with the side ahead at this stage also finishing ahead of their rival in five of those years. Moreover, for the past six seasons the first El Clasico has been won by one side or the other, with the winner finishing as La Liga champions each time.

Real Madrid are still to play Villarreal, Valencia and Sevilla – three of the four favourites in the winner without the Big Two – while Barca have only to play surprise package Espanyol out of the current top eight. This, coupled with head-to-head records between teams ranking above goal difference – effectively making it a three point gap – and the fact this Barcelona side are arguably one of the greatest in history make the Catalan’s still excellent value at 1.70.

Reccomendation: Barcelona to win La Liga at 1.70, Betfair

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