Barcelona sent all doubters a loud message on Tuesday: Don't count them out...until they are actually out.
Trailing AC Milan 2-0 after the first leg of their Champions League clash, Barcelona laid the hammer down and advanced on the strength of a 4-0 victory at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
This was high-powered Barcelona at their best. They had the AC Milan defense scrambling from the start. It took just five minutes for Barca to get on the board as Lionel Messi drilled this sublime effort:
That goal set the tone for the match, and even though Barca didn't score for the next 34 minutes, they controlled possession and it only felt like a matter of time before they equaled the aggregate.
Those feelings were justified, as once again, Messi provided a huge goal:
Barca didn't add their fourth goal until extra time. So there was still drama in this match, but it was all too clear that Barcelona was the superior side.
And just like that, Barcelona must once again be considered the favorites.
Barca started off the year insanely hot, and they've been in the driver's seat in La Liga all season. They also started off the Champions League well. However, at some point, a bit of a malaise set in.
Barca wasn't playing terribly, but they certainly weren't the potent offensive machine they were early in the year. That much can be seen in the fact that Milan shut them out in the first leg of this battle.
That embarrassing effort in the shutout didn't exactly fuel their offensive prowess. Until Monday, Barca hadn't scored more than two goals in over a month.
That stretch also included a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid, who Barca could face again once the draw is revealed in the coming days.
While Real Madrid has been showing the kind of form worthy of being considered the favorite for the upcoming El Clasico (Champions League addition), we can throw that out the window now.
Barca is back and in a big way, and when their offense is firing like it was on Monday, they can't be beat.