Barcelona drew 0-0 at Osasuna and Atletico Madrid fell 1-0 at Espanyol on Saturday, leaving both teams one victory shy of matching a 45-year-old Spanish league record of wins to start the season.
Real Madrid reduced the gap with the two top sides by beating Malaga 2-0, and then watched both its rivals squander their chances to equal the milestone of nine wins in as many opening rounds it set in 1968.
Barcelona remained league leader by one point ahead of Atletico, with Madrid another two points behind and the first clasico match of the season looming next weekend at Camp Nou.
First, however, Barcelona visits AC Milan on Tuesday and Madrid hosts Juventus the next day in the Champions League. Atletico visits Austria Wien also on Tuesday.