There was nothing between Barcelona and Real Madrid on Sunday evening as two Cristiano Ronaldo strikes cancelled out a pair of Lionel Messi goals in a pulsating El Clasico encounter.
The share of the spoils at the Camp Nou keeps the clubs’ respective title odds polarised though, with Barca rated as red-hot 7/20 favourites and Madrid mere 12/5 hopefuls.
I have consistently argued that Real’s title odds understate their hopes of overhauling the gap to Barcelona – which is still eight points wide after last night’s draw.
That remains the case, with Madrid’s recently improved performances suggesting they can mount a title charge, especially with boss Jose Mourinho making clear that he demands nothing less.
Barcelona, for their part, only avoided dropping points with goals in the final ten minutes of three of their six La Liga fixtures prior to the Clasico. Until the Catalans can get into a rhythm of finishing matches off sooner, those odds on Real look good.
While the Primera Division duopoly battled for bragging rights in Barcelona, Atletico Madrid stepped closer to becoming unlikely challengers to the top two’s stranglehold on the title with a similarly enthralling 2-1 win over Malaga in the capital.
Diego Simeone’s men are 16/1 shouts for the title and considering they boast La Liga’s longest unbeaten run at the moment (13 matches), they have every right to attract punters looking for big returns. Their title chances rest heavily on the ability of goal machine Radamel Falcao to keep on scoring, although on last night’s evidence Barcelona and Real are no less dependent on Messi and Ronaldo.
In other La Liga news, a 1-0 victory over Osasuna saw Athletic Bilbao register their second win of the season, as predicted in last week’s column.
Their odds of landing a top-four finish have promptly been cut to 8/1 and despite being in 16th, Athletic are just three points behind fifth-placed Real Madrid.
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