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Real Running Away with La Liga
ESPN Soccernet, January 23rd, 2008 4:16PM

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Can anyone in Spain catch Real Madrid? Well, given that we were asking the same question of Barcelona at this stage last year, it's certainly possible, but ESPN's Phil Ball says the possibility looks increasingly remote with each passing week. On Saturday, Real rather comprehensively won the Madrid derby, beating neighbor Atletico, 2-0.

As it stands, second-place Barcelona is the only team left with a realistic shot of catching the defending champ. Since losing at home to the Merengues before Christmas, the Catalans have done what they needed to do -- that is, win -- although they looked far from convincing against Racing Santander on Sunday, scraping by with a 1-0 win. They are still seven points behind Real; five points further behind them is third-place Villarreal.

Madrid may soon be out of everyone's reach. Part of the secret to the club's success has been its fantastic away form. The Merengues have played 11n away matches and nine at home in the first part of the season. They've already played the five teams directly below them away, which means Madrid would have to suffer a sudden loss of form at home for Barca, Villarreal et al to stand any chance of catching up.

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