LaLiga 2018-19, Espanyol 0-4 Barcelona: 3 Takeaways from the match
On a day when Atletico Madrid put up a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Deportivo Alaves at the Wanda Metropolitano to move temporarily clear at the top of that LaLiga standings.
The Blaugrana laid down on the marker for the rest of the league, Barcelona had to up the ante to reclaim top spot in their quest to retain their league title.
Matchweek 15 paired them up with none other than city rivals Espanyol who after their bright start to the league campaign have been faltering of late, losing each of their last three Liga matches.
Beyond being a match with city bragging rights at stake, Barcelona also needed the three points to stamp their authority on the league with a victory, and they did so with an emphatic 4-0 triumph.
He won took them back two points clear off the rest of the pack, and the Blaugrana can rest easy ahead of their Champions League clash with Tottenham on Wednesday. In this piece, we present three talking points from the emphatic Catalan Derby victory for Barca.
#3 Lionel Messi on a quest for redemption
Once unarguably the greatest player of his generation and arguably the greatest of all time (his four Ballon d'Or consecutive victories from 2009-2012 serve as proof of this), Lionel Messi has seen his stock fall a bit in recent years.
He has seen his 4-1 Ballon d'Or lead over the only man worthy of his throne balanced to five apiece in the last four years, and has suffered the ignomy of seeing his status as the GOAT questioned.
Messi has been without football's top individual honors since 2015, watching on helplessly as Barcelona got eliminated from the knockouts of the Champions League, while Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to three consecutive triumphs.
To make matters worse, he failed to lead his country to World Cup glory, leading to chastising from all and sundry including his country's greatest ever football export.
This year saw Messi miss out on a podium finish in each of the three major individual awards for the first time in almost a decade, as Luka Modric claimed the trio of the UEFA, FIFA and European Best Player awards.
To add insult to injury, Pele cast aspersions on the 31-year-old earlier in the week, claiming that he only shoots with one foot and has one skill which makes a mockery of his claim to be the all time greatest.
However, Pele (who with all due respect to his legendary football career) is far from being the most reliable of pundits, and his take on Messi is way off the mark, with numerous examples abounding to prove the folly of his assertions.
Following the departure of Iniesta at the end of he lat season, Lionel Messi was installed as Barcelona captain at the beginning of he campaign, and in a rare full interview, he disclosed his intention to bring back the glory to Barcelona.
So far, he seems to be on a quest to do just that. He has scored 17 goals in all competitions this season, with six of those coming in just three Champions League matches, as he embarks on his almost one-man mission to bring the trophy back to the Camp Nou.
He has also scored11 goals in LaLiga, and was at his imperious best against Espanyol.
It took just 17 minutes for Messi to open the scores at the RCED stadium, as he rose up from the turf to dust himself after being fouled and convert a freekick from 22 yards which Diego Lopez was helpless to stop on he Espanyol goal.
Nine minutes later, he was at it again, darting and turning the Espanyol defense (despite nervous attempts to get him down), he still showed the wherewithal to lay on a sublime pass for Dembele to put Barca 2-0 up.
Later on in he second half, the Argentine maestro was on hand to make put the icing on he cake with a second sumptuous direct free kick, which was his 9th of 2018 (three more than any other team has managed in all of Europe's top five leagues).
Beyond the free kick brace and assist, there were also other moments of magic throughout the match, including two exquisite passes to Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba, and also a 40 yard track back after he had lost the ball.
Lionel Messi seems to be in beast mode, and as Espanyol roughly found out, when he is in this form, there is no team in the world that can stop him.