Barcelona are left alone in the race for the title

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The enthusiasm to compete for the La Liga title is dying as Barcelona are left alone in the race for the title. OLUFEMI ATOYEBI writes

Last weekend, Barca crushed the only club in their pursuit as Lionel Messi eclipsed Radamel Falcao in the 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid.

There were talks of the two lethal strikers confronting each other but after Falcao opened scoring for Atletico, Barca went on the rampage as Messi netted two of the four goals that wrecked the visitors’ chance of upsetting Barca or threatening their lead in the table.

More than taking Barcelona to the summit even before the Christmas break, the result confirmed them as run-away champions and reduced competition in the Spanish top flight league. It has since been dubbed boring and non-competitive.

Elsewhere in Madrid, Real Madrid suffered a setback in the defence of the title as they drew 2-2 with visiting Espanyol. It was a result that nailed Jose Mourinho team in the title race as they now trail the leaders by 13 points.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone praised Barca for their brilliance but quickly pointed out that the competition was no longer interesting.

“Our team is a strong team, we know how to play,” said the Argentine. “We put in an enormous effort, we showed our souls. We lost to a team who plays in a different league than ours. They are making this a boring league.”

Simeone was not alone in the blunt assessment of the boring league, Real coach Mourinho uncharacteristically conceded the title to his rivals.

“It’s a new situation for me. 13 points in December are a lot. We had eight last year and despite drawing two matches we maintained that distance.

“The league is almost impossible, but we need to continue, Real Madrid demand the maximum dignity. In my coaching career I’ve always, or almost always, achieved my objectives and this is new for me,” said Mourinho.

In an age where clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid are home to world best players and getting the largest share of sponsorship funds, including television rights available in the La Liga, clubs like Atletico can only wait for the left-over and perhaps what they could get from taking part in UEFA competitions.

There is gross uneven TV revenue distribution which sees the top two teams (Real and Barcelona) take the lion share of the revenue, leaving little room for change in the league. Valencia was estimated to earn less from TV revenue than an English club battling relegation from the Premier League last season.

The two giants can boast the biggest revenues in the footballing world, with both earning more than €450m in the 2010/11 season. More than ever the two teams win by ever increasing margins and the title sometimes ends up being decided by el Clasicos.

There is glamour in the Spanish Primera League but beneath the beauty and the appeal is a huge debt burden shouldered by about 80 per cent of the clubs.

To cover up for the huge shortage, clubs like Valencia and Malaga have to sell off its star players. While David Villa and David Silva departed Valencia, Malaga had to sell star player Santi Cazorla to Arsenal. It kills competition and reduces clubs’ ambition to just escaping relegation and probably coming behind the top two to play in Europe.

Apart from the title chase, Messi’s class has reduced the Pichichi award to irrelevance event. After just 16 matches, he leads the scorers’ chart with 25 goals, followed by Falcao with 17 goals and surprisingly, Ronaldo has only netted 14 times this season.

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