Don't look now, but Spain has become a 2 horse race again. As recently as 2007-08, Villarreal finished 2nd, but it's been since Valencia's triumph in 2003-04 that anyone other than the Big 2 has won the title. Before you harp on that too much, though, remember that it's been since 2003-04 that someone other than Chelsea or Manchester United have won the Premier League. Now that there's a 5-point gap between Barcelona and Villarreal--thanks to a weekend encounter that saw Barça win 3-1 at the Camp Nou--it seems unlikely that the league will re-find the parity that made up the opening 3rd of the season.
Right as Barcelona and Real Madrid head towards El Clásico on November 29 (Almeria and Athletic Bilbao are hoping they forget the matches in between, respectively), the league has opened up at the top end. It makes for an exciting title race if you're a fan of either the blaugrana or los blancos, but overall the question is not who will come in 3rd as much as it is by how many points.
And that is boring.
Much as the Premier League has found a measure of parity yet Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United remain the top 3, La Liga is suffering from the same lack of options. As a fan of Barcelona, I'm in love with their current run of form and brilliant play, but going up against Levante or Malaga has an air of inevitability that removes some of the excitement of watching. The Hércules match restored some of the luster--I was disgruntled at the time, of course--but there are now 10 points between 1st and 6th and 22 between 1st and 20th. Granted, Chelsea is leading Sunderland by 9 points and West Ham by 19, but England has also played 2 more matches and Real Madrid would be topping the table by a point with 2 games in hand.
A draw in El Clásico might bring some amount of excitement to the rest of the league, but it won't alleviate any of the general boredom arising from watching Barcelona travel to Almeria (18th place, 19 points behind Barça). If Athletic can put on a show at the Bernabeu, things will get more interesting, but it's unlikely that anything other than 1 point will separate the top 2 come the 29th.
Naturally, after all that, I'll be rearranging my schedule on Saturday to watch Barça travel to Almeria and cheering mightily for the blaugrana to rip them to shreds. Ah, the wonders of being a fan.