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Real Madrid’s run ends while Barcelona shoot themselves in the foot

Real Madrid’s winning run was finally ended by Valencia, but Barcelona missed out on the chance to go top of La Liga

First Valencia laid on a guard of honour for Real Madrid, then they laid into them. 2015 began with a bang and a crash. It also began in celebration, and another glimpse that a fourth power may be re-emerging in Spain. New owners, new players, new manager, new atmosphere, Valencia are on their way back: the team that defeated champions Atlético Madrid and were unfortunate to lose to Barcelona in the 93rd minute began the new year by ending Madrid’s run of 22 consecutive wins, going back almost four months. When Nicolás Otamendi’s thumping header clinched a 2-1 victory, they roared inside Mestalla. An hour later, they were still roaring outside Mestalla, thousands gathered long after the game had ended.

A state of optimism has been declared. The day before the game, 5,000 fans had turned up at Valencia’s Paterna training ground and the day before that 8,000 had come to the presentation of Enzo Pérez, whose arrival for €25m from Benfica takes Valencia’s spending under their new owner Peter Lim over €100m. This time there was real hope. Desire, too. A banner at Paterna declared: “For the mothers that gave birth to you, beat Madrid!”, which they did for the first time in five years at home. This morning, the headline in Super Deporte lauds: “The mothers that gave birth to you!”

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