GETAFE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 15: Thiago Alcantara's return from injury could prove crucial in a successful La Liga campaign for FC Barcelona. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
There is something quite strange about Madrid's lack of form. In all of last season, Los Blancos lost two matches. This season, they have lost two games already - having played only four!
So pardon us for getting a bit excited. Reports were that, on the team plane, Los Cules did not hide their happiness in seeing Sevilla defeat Real. Ex-Sevilla players Adriano and Dani Alves sang the Andalusian fans' anthem in support. Victor Valdes and Gerard Pique cheered. Javier Mascherano, Thiago and others followed the game intently. After the final whistle, the team applauded the win at the Sanchez Pizjuan.
At the press conference, the players were asked about their evident happiness on the team plane.
"That we were... celebrating the... what?" Sergio Busquets asked, puzzled.
The question was posed again. "But you heard what happened in Real Madrid's game?"
"Well, like any game in the Spanish league, or in the second division, or in the Premiership..." Sergio replied nonchalantly.
The journalist insisted. "The fact that they have dropped points, at this time, what does that tell you?"
I doubt very much that Busi followed Real Madrid's match like any match in the second division. The whole squad must know their strongest challengers will almost certainly be Madrid, at some point if not now.
In winning La Liga last season, Real Madrid dropped 14 points, winning 100. To start, they have dropped eight already, winning only four.
Meanwhile, for Los Cules, things are going far better. Barcelona have completed difficult away trips to play Osasuna and Getafe and have come away with three points both times.
In the corresponding fixtures last season, the Blaugrana dropped six points losing 2-3 to Osasuna and 0-1 to Getafe. In addition, Barcelona have defeated Valencia, usually the third strongest club in Spain, at the Camp Nou.
It's only logical for Barcelona to feel a little happy about that. But happiness can breed complacency. It is Tito Vilanova's turn now to remind the players that at 12 points, they still have to win 30 more matches to exceed the total Madrid had last year.
Only three other managers in Barca's history have won their first four league games in charge. Terry Venables and Louis van Gaal went on to win the league their first years as well. On the other hand, Ljubisa Brocic won his first four in 1960 but could not hold the advantage and Real Madrid went on to win La Liga.
Eight may seem like a lot, but it's only three games with 34 left. A deflection here, a mistake there, a strange bounce... suddenly, it's not eight anymore. It can happen faster than you'd think.
Barcelona have done well, but they have not played perfectly. For now, their strongest competition is not Real. It is not even Malaga in second place (who could theoretically be top of the league by the end of the next machday). No, it is themselves. They were good. They can do better.
To be the best, you have to beat the best. All other teams in La Liga will be looking to improve. Barcelona cannot rest. They must strive for the same goal: to be better than the team sitting at the top right now, themselves.
Eight points is a nice advantage, no one can deny that. But it assures absolutely nothing, as Sergio pointed out.
Let's not forget that the win at Osasuna was one of the ugliest and closest games in recent memory. Or that against Valencia, Barca had to rely on a wonder strike from Adriano to win the match. Or that mental mistakes already cost the team the Supercup.
Struggling teams sometimes need a confidence boost. But what about teams riding high? Perhaps what they need is a reality check. It seems Tito Vilanova has tried to bring the squad back to Earth.
Celebrate? Busquets doesn't even know what you're talking about.
"This is the fourth game, it doesn't mean much," Gerard Pique told reporters.
Yes, it's only the fourth game, but Cules will have a hard time hiding their smiles. It does mean more than a little.
But not too much.
How do you feel about the eight point lead over Real Madrid in La Liga?
Fantastic! Confident we will win now! (40 votes)
Reserved - It's nice but nothing is assured (163 votes)
A mixture of both (58 votes)
261 total votes