FC Barcelona returned home on Saturday after earning a midweek draw on the road against Valencia, and recorded a decisive 5-0 victory against Atletico Madrid to climb the table back into the second place spot.
Prior to the match, Barcelona was surprisingly sitting in fourth place in the La Liga standings, suffering an uncharacteristic early-season slump of the variety that only Barca could really call a slump at all: two league draws separated by a huge 8-0 blowout victory over Osasuna.
Barcelona corrected those "troubles" early on against Atletico, taking a commanding three-goal lead in the first 45 minutes. First half goals from David Villa and Lionel Messi, plus a horrifying own-goal from Atletico's defensive line as Barcelona applied heavy attacking pressure, were all the reigning Spanish champions would need to secure the three points.
But Barcelona were not finished yet. Specifically, Lionel Messi still had something to say about Barca's supposed "slump."
Not to be outshone by Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick against Rayo Vallecano earlier in the day, Messi added another two goals in the second half for a hat trick of his own. In the 78th minute, Messi scored his second of the night, and met his quota to stay on pace with Ronaldo during second-half injury time.
Overall, Barcelona dominated the match with a 67 percent share of possession, and outshot Atletico Madrid 18-6.
With the victory, Barcelona sit only one point behind the first-place Betis, though Betis currently has a game in hand to be played on Monday.
Barcelona now head to Belarus for a midweek Champions League fixture against FC BATE Borisov, before returning to Spain for another La Liga road match against Sporting Gijon on Sunday.
Barcelona: David Villa (9')
Barcelona: Miranda (OG, 15')
Barcelona: Lionel Messi (26')
Barcelona: Lionel Messi (78')
Barcelona: Lionel Messi (90')
Victor Valdés, Javier Mascherano, Eric Abidal, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Thiago, Cesc Fábregas, Lionel Messi, David Villa, Pedro
Subs: Gerard Piqué for Sergio Busquets (54'), Seydou Keita for Cesc Fábregas (72'), Maxwell for Eric Abidal (81')
Atletico Madrid Lineup:
Thibaut Courtois, Diego Godín, Miranda, Antonio López, Luis Perea, Mario Suárez, Gabi, Tiago, Diego, Radamel Falcao Garcia, José Antonio Reyes
Subs: Arda Turan for Mario Suárez (45'), Eduardo Salvio for José Antonio Reyes (45'), Adrián for Tiago (79')