Atlético Madrid were beaten after just 26 minutes following some amazing football from a set of players that just seem to get better and better. Xavi was monumental as he orchestrated the onslaught on the visitors' goal, with Barça suffocating the red and white midfield with devastating possession play that as good as had the job done before the first half hour was up. Atlético may have been one of the most impressive teams so far this season, but they were powerless to contain FCB, who completed the show with two more goals in the second half, one of which will go down among Messi's greatest ever.
Villa gets dream start
Although the mattress-makers drew first blood with a Tiago shot onto the bar after just 4 minutes, Barça, once again playing with just three defenders (Alves, Mascherano and Abidal) soon started making their presence felt. After dominating the possession, they first hit the target thanks to Villa, who controlled a magnificent pass from Xavi on his chest and left Courtois floundering with a precision finish. Xavi was involved in the action shortly after, this time supplying Pedro, whose effort narrowly skimmed wide of the post.
Exhibition from Xavi to make it 3-0
Barça didn't hold off. Xavi continued his extraordinary first half with a cheeky back-heel that led to the second goal. However, it will officially go down to the unfortunate Miranda, off whose body the ball rebounded after Courtois had parried away Messi's strike. The Camp Nou was about to be soaked by a massive downpour, but nothing was going to dampen the spirits of Pep Guardiola's charges. It was time for some Messi magic, in yet another move inspired by the omnipresent Xavi, in which he wove his way around the entire Atlético defence and slotted the ball home inside the near post. A goal that was simply a delight to behold.
Both sides like to play the ball around in the middle, and that is where most of the action took place. But Barça had the perfect game plan to deal with a very talented opponent indeed, and made sure neither Diego nor Falcao got too involved in what was going on. Instead, all the chances were going Barcelona's way, and Cesc almost made it four with a deft chip shortly before the break. Gregorio Manzano was clearly looking to shake things up a bit in the second half, when he sent on Salvio and Arda Turan, while Guardiola was under considerably less pressure and decided to give Piqué his first taste of match action since his return from injury. He was welcomed with a huge ovation and settled in nicely in what went back to being a four-man defence.
As the minutes ticked by, Barcelona looked in absolute control of what was going on and continued piling the pressure on Courtois, especially through Messi and Villa. The Argentinian sent the stadium into raptures with a run that Maradona would have proud of in the 72nd minute that he finished off with a perfectly executed strike to make it 4-0. Not even that was enough. In injury time, he and Villa combined and the Argentinian completed a spectacular hat-trick to make it five. There is no doubting that Atlético is one of his favourite victims, and once again the red and whites are leaving the Camp Nou on the back of a thrashing in which at times they were merely spectators of another truly marvellous display form FC Barcelona.