Barcelona's 0-0 draw at Osasuna on Saturday left the Spanish champion one win short of matching the league record for most victories to start the season.
Atletico Madrid could take over as the league leader with a late victory at Espanyol that would equal the league milestone of nine wins through the first nine rounds.
Lionel Messi went on as a substitute in the 68th minute after he recovered from a right leg injury this week, but not even Barcelona's all-time leading scorer could unlock Osasuna's defense.
The draw left Barcelona three points ahead of Real Madrid following its 2-0 win over Malaga.
Barcelona hosts Madrid next weekend in the first clasico of the season after both play Italian rivals, AC Milan and Juventus, in the Champions League midweek.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)