5 Talking Points from Barcelona's Demolition of Osasuna
Barcelona returned to winning ways in La Liga following last weekend's shock defeat to Real Sociedad by beating Osasuna 5-1 at Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi helped himself to four of the goals and Pedro Rodriguez scored the other against the Pamplona side who played most of the game with ten men after Alejandro Arribas was sent off.
It means La Blaugrana maintain their significant advantage over the two Madrid clubs, a lead that with the clock set to tick into February looks more and more like one which will yield the title.
Here are five talking points from the win.
Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better
Lionel Messi saw Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick from earlier in the day and raised it in another case of "anything you can do I can do better" between the Argentinean and Portuguese forwards.
La Pulga's four goals against Osasuna saw him surpass 200 goals in La Liga, as well as becoming the first player to score in eleven consecutive league matches in Spain.
In all competitions, he has now scored 44 goals and averages a hat-trick for Barcelona every 16.4 games (via @MessiStats)
You Have to Be Great to Rotate
Barcelona flexed their muscles and demonstrated that the old saying of "you have to be great to rotate" can certainly be applied to them.
Adriano and Carles Puyol replaced Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique in defence from the midweek Copa del Rey win over Malaga.
Thiago Alcantara was in place for Cesc Fabregas and David Villa came in for Andres Iniesta, who wasn't even required to feature from the bench.
In years gone by Barca have perhaps not had the same squad depth as other European forces have possessed. This is certainly not the case anymore.
Xavi Hernandez Is as Key as Ever
He only hung about for 70 minutes, but it was long enough for Xavi Hernandez to show that he is still a central figure at Camp Nou.
For Barcelona's opening goal he calmly collected a misplaced clearance from the Osasuna keeper and, when others would have shot, took his time before exquisitely setting up Messi.
The third goal, although set up by Dani Alves, was again courtesy of Barca's No. 6. His wonderful diagonal pass found Alves on the right who proceeded to square for Pedro to tap home.
Before being replaced by Cesc Fabregas, the 33-year-old had completed 97 percent of his 87 attempted passes. (via WhoScored.com)
La Liga Needs Yellow Card Reform
A tweet from @YoungCules revealed some interesting statistics about yellow cards awarded for hand ball in Europe's major leagues last season.
It showed that La Liga referees awarded 133 for the offence, whereas in Serie A there were 30, Ligue One 24, Bundesliga with 15 and the Premier League with 14.
The trend has continued into this campaign too, as Alejandro Arribas saw a second yellow card against Barcelona for a hand ball which led to a Barca penalty.
It looked far from a deliberate attempt to play the ball with his hand, and even if the referee felt it deserved a spot kick, common sense could have prevailed with the booking.
It is one of many debates that surrounds La Liga and one which needs bringing in line with the other leagues in Europe.
A Good Day at the Mini Estadi
As Barcelona kicked off against Osasuna, Barcelona B had just wrapped up a 3-1 win over Real Madrid Castilla in the Mini Clasico.
The match took place in the shadows of Barcelona's famous Camp Nou home at the Mini Estadi.
Real Madrid's youngsters took a first half lead through Alvaro Morata but the game changed in the second half following Alex Fernandez's red card for Los Blancos.
Sergio Araujo, an Argentinean forward similar to his namesake Aguero, scored twice before Gerard Deulofeu added the third from the penalty spot.
Thiago's younger brother Rafinha and Gustavo Ledes looked particularly comfortable in midfield—especially when Madrid were reduced to 10—and Luis Alberto displayed plenty of good link-up play.