But something happened over the international break and the wheels have came off the Barca bandwagon. Atletico knocked them of the Champions League in midweek, and Real Madrid’s win at Getafe on Saturday moved Zinedine Zidane’s side to within a point of the league leaders.
Barcelona play in the late on Sunday at home to Valencia, but at kickoff they could be level on points with Atleti and one point ahead of Real. These are nervy days for Luis Enrique and any slip-up between now and the end of the season could see the title head to either the red or white sides of Madrid.
On Saturday Karim Benzema produced a brilliant display to help Real coast to victory in this derby.
After Cristiano Ronaldo had struck the upright, Benzema opened the scoring on the half-hour mark despite not making the cleanest of contact with an excellent delivery from James Rodriguez.
The former Lyon striker then played a one-two with Isco to enable the midfielder to add the second, and facilitated a rapid counter-attack for Gareth Bale to slot home the third before being replaced by Jese Rodriguez in the 67th minute.
Pablo Sarabia pulled one back for Getafe, but they were unable to avoid a 13th Liga match without a win in Juan Esnaider’s first game at the helm as James and Ronaldo both found the net in the closing stages to complete a seventh successive top-flight win for Madrid.
Celta Vigo stretched their unbeaten run to four games and stayed on track for Europa League qualification with a 1-1 draw at home to Real Betis.
After Alfred N’Diaye tapped in the easiest of openers for Betis, Pablo Hernandez rifled in a second-half equaliser as Celta stayed fifth – five points clear of seventh-placed Sevilla.
Sporting Gijon are a point adrift of safety after a 1-1 draw at Las Palmas and Eibar came from behind to beat Real Sociedad 2-1 in a Basque derby.