Barça saw off a brave Eibar at the Camp Nou, with second half goals from Xavi, Neymar and Messi to confirm their top spot in the league and give the fans plenty of optimism a week before the trip to the Bernabeu.
With Ratikic and Busquets in the stands, Luis Enrique pushed Macherano into midfield alongside Xavi and Sergio Roberto, making his first league start, with Mathieu partnering Piqué in the heart of defence. Up front, Messi was accompanied by Pedro and Neymar , with Sandro and Munir coming on late in the second half. There were no surprises in the way the teams set about the game though, with Barça dominating possession and constantly probing the disciplined Basque defence. Dani Alves was getting plenty of ball down the right, but it was Messi who was causing the most headaches with a series of half chances.
Eibar were given a glimpse of hope just before the break when Capa managed to get behind the Barça defence on a counter and after rounding Bravo, he shot wide with an open goal in front of him. After the break, the unlucky Sergio Roberto was forced off after a collision on 54 minutes to be replaced by Iniesta and Barça upped the pressure. Five minutes later, Xavi put them one up, chipping the keeper after a lovely pass from Messi – his seventh assist of the league campaign.
Neymar then doubled the lead, putting away an Alves cross with a well hit shot from close to the penalty spot and Messi made it three almost immediately afterwards after a lovely one-two with the Brazilian had set him free on the right. Just one off the Spanish league scoring record, Messi came agonisingly close with a couple of late chances, but Eibar’s man of the match, Irureta denied him.
The win leaves Barça top of the table, four points in front of Real Madrid, a week ahead of the game at the Bernabeu . Before that big match though, Barça are back at the Camp Nou face Ajax on Tuesday in their third group game of the Champions League.