La Liga Betting: Real Madrid leapfrog Barca and go odds-on for title
Real Madrid overtook bitter rivals Barcelona, and became title favourites, on what could turn out to be a pivotal weekend in Spain's top flight, reports Max Liu...
Real Madrid are odds-on favourites to win La Liga after their 2-1 victory away to Real Sociedad put them top of the table on goal difference. Barcelona, who also have 65 points and eight games to play, were held to a goalless draw by Sevilla on Friday night - an outcome tipped up by our previewer Dan Fitch.
Zinedine Zidane's men are1.68 in the Exchange's Spanish La Liga winner market, with defending champions Barca drifting to [2.42].
It's the first time since February that Madrid have been title favourites and a significant turn around in the betting: prior to the restart, they were 2.70 to win La Liga while Barcelona were 1.60.
Fixtures come thick and fast in thrilling title race
The pair are 13 points ahead of third-placed Sevilla so it will come down to a straight battle between Spain's big two.
Barcelona can go back to the top of the table, when they play at home to Athletic Bilbao tomorrow, before Madrid host Mallorca on Wednesday night.
At the Nou Camp there's a growing sense that it is the end of an era for Barca, as Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi enter the twilight years of their astonishing careers.
Betfair Ambassdor Rivaldo talked in his column last week about the need for Barca to rest Messi as tries to regain full fitness after a lay-off. Against Sevilla, however, the Argentinian played the full 90 minutes as Barca fought for a breakthrough.
But for Madrid too the season has been far from straight-forward. Last summer's signings, such as Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic have struggled to bed in, and the team are arguably still adjusting to the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era.
Zidane was in charge last time Madrid won the title in 2016/17 and adding this season's La Liga to his three Champions League medals would cement his status as one of the world's greatest coaches.
He is the only manager to have won consecutive Champions Leagues - winning three in a row between 2016 and 2018 - but overcoming Barca in this domestic title battle, at a moment when the Madrid squad is ageing and in transition, would rank with any of his achievements.