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MOISÉS LORENS | 04/01/2013
For Barcelona, their aim of wresting back the league title from title holders Real Madrid appears to be going exactly to plan. The Azulgranas are keen to extend their run of victories into the New Year and continue what has until now, been an almost faultless campaign. Tito Vilanova's team has dropped just two points since the season started - ironically, against Madrid, who gained a 2-2 draw from their visit to Camp Nou in Week 7. The rest of the 17 matches played to date have ended in victory for the Catalans. If they can manage to prolong their incredible form, they may well smash a set of domestic records which many consider to be unbeatable.
Madrid have the honour of being the team to have registered the most points in one campaign. Last season, they became the first side to reach 100 points in the Spanish league and indeed, the first club to do so in any of the major European leagues. If that wasn't enough, Jose Mourinho's men also smashed the league goal- scoring records of 107 goals set by the Quinta de Buitre side in the 1989-90 season, finding the target 121 times.
At the same stage last season, with 17 matches played, the Whites had scored 61 goals. In contrast, Barça's current tally stands at 57 but with Leo Messi in such devastating form, anything could happen between now and May.
As far as points go, the figures recorded by Barça so far - two games before the midway point is reached, suggests that this season's side could go one better than their eternal rivals. The Azulgranas could improve on the 52 points they posted at the halfway stage in 2010-11. The team's current tally stands at 49 after 17 games which means they have already surpassed Madrid's record of 47 points before the second round of games are to be played. Should they prevail in Sunday's Catalan derby and be able to snatch a win from La Rosaleda against Málaga next weekend, Barça will have posted an astonishing 55 points with the remaining half of the season left to play.
Despite falling short in the domestic league and the Champions League last season, Pep Guardiola?s team gained impressive figures in the coach's final year at Camp Nou. His side celebrated 45 victories in all competitions while for the present side, the figure today stands at 24 (16 in the league, four in the Champions League and three in domestic Cup competition - the Copa del Rey and Spanish Supercup). While they remain alive in all three tournaments, they are in with a realistic chance of breaking their own records for victories in one season.
And that's not all. If Leo Messi hits the net against Espanyol on Sunday, he will equal his own personal best of scoring in eight consecutive games. The all-time record of scoring in 10 consecutive matches is shared by Mariano Martín (in 1943) and Ronaldo Nazario (during his time at Barça in 1996-7, under Bobby Robson and with Mourinho as his assistant).
During the 2010-11 campaign, Barça went on a run of 10 consecutive victories on the road. Vilanova's men are one win away from equalling that feat but will need to put in a Herculean effort to match Real Madrid's all-time record of 15 straight away wins. Out of all of the possible records to be matched or broken, this is probably the most out of reach for the Catalans but stranger things have happened in football and from what we have seen already, this side is capable of almost anything.