Great players win games. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
In Lionel Messi, Barcelona have the greatest of all time, and his strike partner Luis Suarez is no slouch either.
With Cristiano Ronaldo gone, Luka Modric and Marcelo ageing, Gareth Bale injured and nobody else on form, Los Blancos had nobody on the pitch who could produce the same magic as Messi and Suarez.
That’s why they’re fifth, languishing in the dust while Santiago Solari waves his hands helplessly on the touchline, falling to a 2-0 defeat by Real Sociedad.
Quality told at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, in a match where Getafe exhibited their strengths during an intense start to the game.
They might have had a penalty for a foul by Arturo Vidal on Angel Rodriguez, scored a brilliant goal which was disallowed for a foul on Clement Lenglet, and generally had Barcelona under the cosh in the opening stages.
With the second tightest defence in La Liga, Getafe were gearing up to give the champions an extremely tricky evening in the chilly Spanish capital.
However Bordelas’s well-drilled troops don’t have to face players of Messi’s calibre every week.
The Argentine undid the defence with a quick burst which saw him beat two defenders and the goalkeeper to a ball dropping from the sky, maintaining his balance and composure to knock it through the legs of onrushing stopper David Soria before touching it home from a tight angle. It was a mixture of speed, skill and opportunism and few other players in the world would be able to manage such a goal.
The same goes for the second, scored by Suarez. Getafe were ceding few clear chances to Barcelona, so the Uruguayan decided to try something different. Suarez sent a screaming volley into the top corner from outside the area, a brutal goal that left Getafe facing a scoreline they didn’t deserve.
The hosts pulled one back before the interval, with Jaime Mata tapping home a few moments after his team struck the post, with their punchy attacks making Barcelona extremely uncomfortable.
On another day they might have equalised, with Mata somehow blazing over after rounding Marc-Andre ter Stegen, an open goal beckoning.
But Barcelona’s world-class stars were enough to carry the day for the reigning champions and see them tighten their grip on the title.
What Madrid were lacking was this same quality, from top to almost bottom - goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois emerged unscathed - but the rest need to improve.
Perhaps the exception to Madrid's struggles against Sociedad was Vinicius Junior, whose running and skill up front was the only bright spot for supporters at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, relying on an unpredictable 18-year-old is not a viable strategy.
Speaking of which, there weren’t that many. Swathes of empty seats were visible, fans turned off by recent performances and the dark cloud over the club this season.
“We will try to get them back again,” said Solari when asked about the supporters. The ones who did turn up weren’t happy, whistling the players and in some patches chanting for president Florentino Perez to resign.
This is what crisis looks like for Madrid, but it is not a dramatic one, because, really, it wasn’t that hard to see coming.
Last season they finished a mile behind Barcelona in La Liga and that was when they still had Ronaldo.
Even if the Portuguese was never quite the equal of his Argentine counterpart, he was close enough to be spoken of in the same breath, to win the Ballon d’Or the same number of times.
Brahim Diaz has arrived, with Madrid announcing his signing in the aftermath of the defeat, but the former Manchester City playmaker has only potential, not the power to instantly transform the club’s title bid, which can now be considered over.