In a rare reminder that even the greatest of us can have the odd off day, Barcelona were stunned 3-2 by Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Despite suffering their first defeat of the season, the Catalans still sit prettily at the top of the Primera Division tree with a commanding eight-point lead over Atletico Madrid and a 15-point cushion on Real Madrid.
And in truth, it would take a comeback to dwarf Sociedad’s incredible recovery from 2-0 down against Barca at Anoeta for the league title to head to the Spanish capital this May.
Nevertheless, the outside odds on that event occurring have been cut, with both Madrid teams priced at 25/1 to claim the honours, while Barcelona have drifted from 1/100 to 1/50.
To put that another way, Barcelona might have one-and-a-half hands on the trophy already but a little finger has twitched, and yet only the very bravest punters should consider backing a title race turnaround in Spain.
Real Madrid’s storming 5-0 win in Valencia – a game in which all five goals arrived in the first half – is a reminder that the champions will be around to cash in should Barcelona suffer a catastrophic slip-up.
More realistically, the rout at the Mestalla helped to banish any fears that Real won’t cruise into their customary Champions League qualifying spot.
Second-placed Atletico, for their part, were also able to take full advantage of the Catalans’ shock defeat as goals from Adrian Lopez and Koke gave them a routine 2-0 win over Levante at the Vicente Calderon.
Meanwhile, Sociedad, for whom Imanol Agirretxe scored a dramatic injury-time winner against the previously irrepressible Barca, are now 33/1 shouts for the top four.
They are six points shy of fourth spot, which is still held by Real Betis after a 1-1 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao.
Pepe Mel’s men were unable to take advantage of fifth-placed Malaga failing to win for a third match in succession as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Celta Vigo at La Rosaleda.
Both Real Betis and Malaga are priced 5/2 to finish in the top four and the two sides meet in Seville on February 23rd in what could prove a defining clash in the increasingly competitive top-four battle.