La Liga giants to end season without major trophy

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It's been a while since Barcelona and Real Madrid failed to win either the Primera Liga, Champions League or Copa del Rey titles between them - nine years, to be precise.

Back in 2004, Jose Mourinho's FC Porto were crowned European champions, Valencia lifted their sixth league title, while Real Madrid were beaten by Real Zaragoza in the final of the Copa del Rey.

Since then the La Liga giants have picked up at least one of the major trophies between them - including every Spanish league title between 2005 and 2013.

But about once every decade a team other than Real Madrid or Barcelona tends to pip Spain's big boys to the Primera Liga title - and no prizes for guessing who that could be this season.

With seven wins from their opening seven matches, Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid are currently looking like genuine title challengers. Of course it's still very early in the campaign, but Atleti have already gone to the Bernabeu and won this term, which suggests they are more than mere pretenders.

If Simeone can keep his first-choice eleven fit for the majority of the campaign then Atletico have every chance of winning their first La Liga title since 1996.

After conquering their Real Madrid phobia, nothing will faze them this season, including the prospect of visiting Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Like Atleti, Barca also have seven wins to their name this season. But with Lionel Messi struggling with injury problems again, Gerardo Martino's hopes of landing the title in his debut season at the Nou Camp could be severely hindered.

Now let's look at the Champions League.

Anyone who watched Bayern Munich comprehensively dismantle Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this week will accept that the reigning European champions are clear favourites to retain their title. At the moment they are a cut above the rest.

It will take something special this season to stop the Bavarians - who Pep Guardiola appears to have improved in his short spell at the Allianz Arena - and Real Madrid and Barcelona will struggle if they find themselves up against last season's German treble winners.

No team has managed to retain the Champions League in its current format, but Bayern have the quality to buck that particular trend.

So, what about the Copa del Rey? Surely Real Madrid or Barcelona will at least that major trophy?

Well, it's important to remember that the La Liga and Champions League campaigns are always top of both clubs' agendas. This is why the two giants have won just three Copa del Reys between them since 1999 - it's just not important enough to be overly concerned about.

They may wished they had tried a little harder, though, by the time the 2013/14 campaign draws to a close.

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