Barcelona confirmed their status as the best football team in the world with another high-quality display, thrashing Valladolid 3-0 away.
The latest rout stretches their lead atop La Liga to eight points. Barca have 49 points from 19 games. Real, who are at home to Malaga on Sunday, have 41.
This is the fifth time in La Liga history that a team have reached the halfway point unbeaten, and the first time ever that Barca have done it.
Josep Guardiola’s slick side have never looked in danger of defeat and have conceded just 10 goals, a new record at this stage of the season.
Guardiola said: “It’s not bad to be unbeaten for the first half of the season, but it is really just anecdotal. There are many games left to play.”
“The important thing,” he said, “is that we continue to be aggressive, wanting to open things up and generate chances.”
Barca playmaker Andres Iniesta said: “We have done our part. Now let’s see what Madrid are going to do tomorrow.”
Lionel Messi and company could have scored more goals, had they not eased up in the second half.
Valladolid, who are fourth from bottom, made a spirited start only to be cruelly hit by two Barca sucker punches.
In the 21st minute, Dani Alves escaped down the right and centred for Xavi to make it 1-0 with a classy volley.
Just two minutes later, the indefatigable Alves broke free again and centred for Zlatan Ibrahimovic — but his cross accidentally drifted over goalkeeper Justo Villar for the second score.
The two quick goals knocked the stuffing out of Valladolid, who never threatened to turn the match around.
Barca enjoyed 70 per cent possession and could have scored five or six times in the second half. In the 55th minute, Ibrahimovic centred for Messi who made it 3-0 with his trusty left foot.
It was Messi’s 15th league goal of the season and leaves him atop the scorers’ chart, one goal ahead of Valencia’s David Villa.