x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Barcelona on target for a magnificent seven

Victory for Barcelona will also mean something more important: an 11-point lead over Madrid.

Barcelona's Carles Puyol injured his arm during Wednesday's Champions League game against Benfica..
Barcelona's Carles Puyol injured his arm during Wednesday's Champions League game against Benfica..

It is not going to be easy for Barcelona against Real Madrid on Sunday. Carles Puyol is injured yet again after breaking his arm in Lisbon on Tuesday, while his central defensive foil Gerard Pique is still out.

But if Barcelona prevail, they will break their own record for a winning start to the season. Tito Vilanova's side have won all six league games, matching the victorious opening run of 1929/30 under the Englishman James Bellamy, a record which held for 61 years until 1990/91 under Johan Cruyff.

Barca also won their opening six in 1997/98 under Louis van Gaal and in 2009/10 under Pep Guardiola. They went on to win the league in all but the 1929 season, but they have never won seven before to commence the season.

Victory will also mean something more important: an 11-point lead over Madrid.

The current eight-point gap would have been unthinkable in August, an 11-point gap, with three defeats, would make the league title almost impossible for Madrid, who lost just two of their 38 league games last season.

There are signs of life at Madrid though. They destroyed a poor Deportivo La Coruna 5-1 at the weekend, but another defeat will likely force open those cracks in the camp which have not yet been repaired. The defender Sergio Ramos continues to speak out and defend his teammates whenever Jose Mourinho criticises them.

Another month, another El clasico and another set of intriguing questions which will be answered on Sunday.

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