The 2-1 defeat of Getafe on Sunday night means that FC Barcelona not only hold onto the league lead, by a clear five points after Atlético Madrid were held in Seville, but are also guaranteed to win the honorary title of ‘Winter Champions’, which is claimed by the team that tops the table at the half-way stage of the competition.
And this has been done with one game still to play, at home to Eibar next week, before the ‘second leg’ of La Liga gets under way. Barça have 12 wins, 4 draws and just two defeats from their first 18 outings.
Being winter champion tends to mean a lot more than mere bragging rights. In the last ten decades, there have only been two occasions when the mid-season pacemakers didn’t go on to lift the trophy.
The first was in 2013/14, when Atlético Madrid took the title despite Barça and Tata Martino having led at the halfway stage. There was a similar turnaround the year after, but under happier circumstances for the blaugrana, who replaced early frontrunners Real Madrid at the top of the table.