After 13 games it is Atletico that are chasing Barcelona not Real, and that gives this weekend’s derby a little extra twist.
Atletico head into the match, three points behind leaders Barcelona after 13 matches and eight ahead of stuttering Real.
With 17 wins from 20 games in all competitions, this season Atletico has seen in phenomenal form and in Colombia striker Radamel Falcao they have one of the top five players in the world.
A win for Diego Simeone’s side will certainly end Real’s title dreams and Real captain Iker Casillas is well aware of what is at stake.
“It is a different match from previous seasons,” he said.
“They are coming to the Santiago Bernabeu with a very strong team and after a win in a very tough match against Sevilla, who beat us.
“We hoped that there would be less of distance between us, but hopefully at the end of the match that advantage will be cut to five points. Any aim other than winning is no good for us.”
Interestingly, despite Atletico being the better side this season, and the turmoil in the Real camp, the consensus is that Real should still have too much quality for their rivals and the bookies agree.
If Mourinho is right and Los Blancos’ real problem is not their coach but a certain resting on laurels after last season’s title win, then a chance to put down their city rivals looks ideal for Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Karim Benzema and company to get back to their winning ways.
It might not be as straightforward as in previous years, but Madrid’s greater individual quality throughout the team, and greater need for the points, should really see them through.