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Pep Guardiola's side suffered a shock loss in the capital and are now six adrift of Jose Mourinho's men at the top of the table - and just ahead of Valencia - after 13 games

COMMENT
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor

It proved to be an unlucky 13 for Barcelona. Pep Guardiola's side came into their 13th league fixture of the campaign unbeaten - and buoyed by the brilliance of their 3-2 win at AC Milan in midweek. But playing once again in their mint-green third strip, they lost their freshness and their flavour on Saturday - and they relinquished their unbeaten record too.

Barca had scored on the road in their last 26 games and had failed to net on only one previous occasion this season - the goalless draw at home to Sevilla when Lionel Messi missed a last-minute penalty. This time, the brilliant Argentine was denied by Getafe goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya, the post and a marginal offside decision in the closing stages as Barca sought a response to Juan Valera's headed opener midway through the second half.

But it never arrived.

All of the action had taken place in the Spanish capital, with Jose Mourinho's men in action earlier on at the Santiago Bernabeu against city rivals Atletico Madrid. Real hadn't lost a derby against Atletico since 1999 when, as Marca reminded the Rojiblancos, Spain's currency was still pesetas.


Lucky for some | Madrid have won their last 13 games

So few expected a shock in either match. And Atletico's bright start and fine opening goal - scored by Adrian - only unsettled the home side for seven minutes. Visiting keeper Thibaut Courtois was then sent off for a foul on Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the spot to net his first-ever goal against Atletico and it was a stroll after that against 10 men - and later nine, as Diego Godin also saw red.

Ronaldo's sixth assist of the season set up the returning Angel Di Maria for the second, while substitute Gonzalo Higuain made it 3-1 and also won the penalty from which the Portuguese added another to rack up 20 goals this season and make it 18 spot-kick successes out of 19 at Madrid for the former Manchester United man.

But the most important statistic of all sees Madrid move six points clear of Barca for the first time since the final weekend of the 2007-08 season, which also happens to be the last time they claimed the Primera Division title.

With the Clasico looming on December 10, Madrid travel to Sporting Gijon next weekend - without Xabi Alonso, who was booked and will be suspended - in a league fixture in which Ronaldo is yet to score and one which caused Real problems last season as they claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win in the away game and suprisingly lost at home to the Asturians by the same scoreline.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS | La Liga Top Three After 13 Games


P
W D L F A GD Pts

    Real Madrid 13 11 1 1 46 10 +36 34

    Barcelona
13 8 4 1 38 7 +31 28

    Valencia 13 8 3 2 21 13 +8 27

But nothing but a win will do this time as Mourinho's men look to make their advantage count ahead of a Clasico clash in which, providing they win next weekend, even a draw would be a decent result.

Due to their Club World Cup commitments, Barca play twice before returning to Madrid for the huge clash at the Bernabeu. The Catalans are in action on Tuesday at home to Rayo Vallecano, 2-1 losers at home to third-placed Valencia on Saturday, and then feature again at Camp Nou at the weekend - against Levante. Win both games, as they will be expected to do, and they will travel to the capital just three points behind Madrid - albeit having played a game more.

Providing that is achieved, Barca will either be able to draw level at the top or will find themselves well off the pace if Mourinho can mastermind a first Madrid win over Guardiola in La Liga. So if it wasn't exciting enough already, the Clasico is shaping up to be a real six-pointer.

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