With a comfortable 3-0 victory over Malaga CF, FC Barcelona reclaimed their place back on top of La Liga, relegating Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid down to second and third place respectively. There were moments last night when it appeared as though the visitors had a chance at stealing a share of the spoils thanks to an inspired performance from Willy Caballero, but Barça's pressure eventually paid dividends. Gerard Pique opened the scoring with a composed finish before second-half goals from Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez secured the three points.
On another night, the margin of victory could have been so much greater; Lionel Messi for instance didn't get himself back on the score sheet, while the likes of Dani Alves, Cesc Fabregas and Xavi were all denied at one stage or another by the in-form Caballero.
With the points wrapped up, Gerardo Martino took the opportunity to reintroduce Ibrahim Afellay back into the Barcelona team, giving the Dutchman a five minute run out in the dying stages of the game. It was great to see Afellay back on the field, and equally encouraging to hear the rapturous ovation that he was afforded by a relatively small Camp Nou crowd.
Certainly, there were no suggestions that Barcelona are a club in turmoil; no matter what happens off the field, Barça only know how to respond on the field. And as far as responses go, this was the Blaugrana sending a message, loud and clear to the rest of La Liga.