Argentine football star Lionel Messi's polished off his record year with his 91st and final goal of 2012 in Barcelona's 3-1 win at Valladolid, which the team dedicated to ailing coach Tito Vilanova.
Players from both teams wore T-shirts before the game with messages of support for Vilanova, who had throat surgery to remove a second tumour in two years from a saliva gland last week.
While 16 wins in 17 games is a record start for Barca and opened up a nine-point lead in La Liga over second-placed Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid went down 3-2 away to Malaga to fall 16 points behind the Catalan giants.
Defiant Real coach Jose Mourinho insists he won't be resigning and he hasn't lost the dressing room.
Mourinho controversially dropped goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas from the starting line-up - the first time in 10 years that the Spanish World Cup winner Casillas has been axed - but the Portugese coach says the team is just lacking some luck in the last few games.