Betting: Barcelona aiming for third La Liga title in four years as Real Madrid pay for poor start

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The Catalans are in pole position in the title race, but can Los Blancos catch them or will Valencia pull off a stunning upset?

The opening three months of the La Liga season have seen Barcelona build up a lead over arch rivals Real Madrid that few thought possible at the start of the campaign.

Back in August, Los Blancos beat the Catalans 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup, and with the Blaugrana having lost Neymar, it felt as if the league title would be almost certainly staying at the Bernabeu.

Perhaps a lack of expectation has worked in Barca's favour, though, because Ernesto Valverde's men have made a near perfect start and their total of 31 points after 11 matches is the highest in La Liga history, and to make it even worse for other teams in La Liga, Barca have not actually been playing all that well and in their 11 games so far but have ground out wins when it matters.

Isco Real Madrid

Whilst Barca have been winning, Real Madrid have endured a torrid start by their sky-high standards; last season on their way to the title, Zinedine Zidane's side lost just three league games, yet after a relatively comfortable-looking start to this campaign on paper, the champions have already lost twice and have only faced one of the top six sides - meaning there are surely tougher games ahead for Zidane's misfiring outfit.

With an eight point gap to make up on Barca, Betfair offer Los Blancos at 11/4 (3.75) to retain their title, although the good news for Madrid is that there are still 81 points to play for. Barcelona, meanwhile, are priced at 2/7 (1.28) and currently their closest title rivals are not Madrid but Valencia.

A rejuvenated Los Che side have made a hugely impressive start to the campaign and after 11 games they remain unbeaten with eight wins and three draws, sitting four points behind Barca; Valencia have no European football to distract them and currently boast a talented group of players who are the form of their lives and playing with real confidence.

La Liga odds graphic

The 2004 La Liga champions are offered at 25/1 (26.00) to win the title once more and they certainly look more likely than Atletico Madrid, the only other side who have been able to break the recent duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid when they won the title in 2014.

While Atleti remain unbeaten, they also remain extremely unconvincing, and a lack of genuine firepower will be of concern for Diego Simeone.

However, if Los Rojiblancos - who are priced at 25/1 (26.00) - remain within touching distance come January, the arrival of Diego Costa will surely boost them, while their probable exit from the Champions League will means more focus on domestic competition. 

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