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On Tito Vilanova and Mou's finger showing the way

Not long ago I wrote in this column, half in jest, half seriously, that we were close to having a season in which Barcelona and Madrid would beat every single team and would decide the league between themselves.

Well, I was right about one team: Barça.

Madrid have lost the league for God only knows how many reasons, but Barça have beaten every single team in the league aside from Madrid, (with whom they drew 2-2, with a paper thin defence).

Last night they brought their outstanding first half of the season to a close in Málaga, against one of the best teams in the league. They have finished the first half of the season with 55 points, winning every point bar two, a feat that has never been achieved before.

When Pep Guardiola left Barcelona last season, the general prediction (including my own) was that the club's power would decline somewhat. The opposite has happened. The team that has declined, and by quite a distance, is Madrid, who, with the same players and the same coach that swept to the league title last season, have collapsed and are on a downward spiral.

Madrid have no hope of winning the league. Do Atlético Madrid, 11 points behind the leaders, have any hope of catching Barça? With all respect, no. For the first time in my memory, the title has been decided halfway through the season. And with Tito Vilanova in charge. Remember the banner in the Bernabéu after José Mourinho poked the then Barça assistant in the eye: "Mou, your finger shows us the way"? How wrong that message turned out to be.

The only thing left to discuss now is the positions below Barcelona, where Madrid find themselves seven points behind Atlético, who have had such a good campaign that in any other year they would be league leaders.

With Barcelona running away with the league, the old Madrid-Atleti rivalry is back. Because now the team Madrid are chasing is Atlético, and on their own tails are Real Betis, currently just three points behind 'Los Blancos' and catching up. The second half of the season will be fascinating, because although I find it hard to imagine Madrid finishing fourth, who could have thought they would be 18 points behind Barcelona and 7 behind Atleti? Although Barça are out of sight, there is still a lot of excitement to come.

Estadísticas AS.com