Real's long wait over as it goes top in Spain

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Real Madrid's long wait to be back on top of the Spanish league is finally over. And it wasn't all due to Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Spanish giant is in tremendous form to sit alone atop the La Liga standings for the first time since the 2011/12 season, when it won the title.

Madrid is unbeaten in 26 games - its best run since 1988/89 - before Wednesday's Champions League match at Schalke, when Ronaldo returns after serving a three-game domestic ban.

Madrid's attack hasn't dipped despite the Ballon d'Or winner's absence, with Gareth Bale shining in a 3-0 win over Elche on Saturday.

Madrid was in lethal form compared to erratic efforts by its closest challengers Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who both trail the Spanish leader by three points.

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