Returning to Camp Nou after a long road trip and international break, Barcelona faced off against Racing Santander in their first La Liga fixture in two weeks, defeating the visitors 3-0 with the help of a Lionel Messi brace.
The victory allows Barcelona to remain at the top of the La Liga table, with Real Madrid still only one point behind after a victory of their own on Saturday, as well.
Returning for Barcelona after an extensive injury recovery was Andres Iniesta. Though Iniesta was still not deemed fit to play a full 90 minutes, his presence was extremely influential to the vital result for Barcelona as he played a key role in two of the club's three goals.
The first came in the 11th minute, as Messi played the ball to Iniesta, who then played it back as the Argentine maneuvered his way into the box. From there, it was all Messi, who found his way through two Racing defenders and dummied the goalkeeper to casually net his first of the night.
In the 27th minute, Pedro fired a cross into the area to find an unmarked Xavi to head in Barca's second goal of the night. While it was perhaps less spectacular than what fans have come to expect from Barcelona, even a standard cross and header looks amazing when executed so fluently by the defending European champions.
In the 68th minute, Iniesta demonstrated once again what makes him one of the world's best, and almost netted a goal of his own in the process. After quickly settling a pass in traffic, Iniesta maneuvered around the swarming defenders to take a powerful shot from 12 yards out. The shot rattled the post, before landing at the feet of Lionel Messi who scored his second of the night from the rebound.
Barcelona maintained their dominating form throughout the clash, outshooting the visitors 19-3 and enjoying an 83 percent share of the possession. With Real Madrid rediscovering similar form, the La Liga table is beginning to rearrange itself into something a bit more like what analysts predicted at the beginning of the season.
The only exception? Levante—who plays Malaga at home on Sunday to try to remain tied with Barcelona for the first-place spot in the league.