The Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid derby on Saturday night could be the game that spells the end of a serious title challenge from either of the Clasico teams this season.
Yes, things have got that serious in Spain. Diego Simeone's tough Atletico side currently sit top of the table, having taken 26 points from their first 10 matches.
Ronald Koeman's Barcelona are down in ninth, already 12 points off the pace – just three points above the relegation zone. Of their last five league games, they have won just once; losing to Real, Atletico and Cadiz. And you thought Arsenal had it bad.
Los Blancos themselves are in a more respectable fourth place, on 20 points.
However, Zinedine Zidane's side – the current title holders – have played a game more than Atleti going into this weekend's derby, making Saturday night's showdown at the Bernabeu as close to a must-win as a pre-Christmas league game can feasibly be.
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Should they lose, they would be nine points adrift of their rivals before Atletico's game in hand.
That would put us on course for a first Spanish league season without a Clasico winner since 2013/14 – when a 90-point haul handed the title to Atletico, just three points ahead of both Barcelona and Real Madrid. In fact, that year is the only one of the last 16 seasons not to have seen either Barça or Real come out on top.
Surprise package Real Socieded – super-powered by summer signing David Silva – may be just a point behind Simeone's men, but they have played a game more. And with just two goals conceded and no defeats so far, Los Rojiblancos could be looking at winning the league title at something of a canter.
It's worth remembering, too, that La Liga takes into account head-to-head records before goal difference – so a win against a close rival is as good as worth an extra point.
That's what makes this weekend's fixture probably the biggest Madrid derby since 2014's Champions League final.
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid kicks off at 8pm GMT on Saturday December 12. You can watch it in the UK on LaLigaTV
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