Ending the year in style; based on the performance we witnessed this afternoon, that was one of FC Barcelona's primary objectives for tonight's match -- second only to picking up the three points. Indeed, if we look at the result from afar it seems absolutely perfect: three points of course, but also the five goals scored and an all-important clean sheet. With Real Madrid away in Morocco winning the FIFA Club World Cup, it was important for the Blaugrana to secure the win and close the gap at the top of La Liga.
Admittedly the slender nature of the differential between Barça and Los Blancos heading into the winter break is ultimately fake; Carlo Ancelotti's side hold a game in hand over their eternal rivals and seem likely to emerge victorious from it, but let's not take anything away from Luis Enrique. After a disappointing draw with Getafe CF last weekend, the pressure was on. The pressure was on, and he reacted wonderfully. He made a few bold decisions -- dropping Xavi and keeping Neymar on the bench in spite of his recent recovery from injury, but both gambles paid dividends.
Pedro opened the scoring as Neymar's replacement off an assist from Ivan Rakitic, who later went on to rattle the frame of the goal in a strong display from the Croatian. Martin Montoya also started and performed admirably, perhaps casting doubt over his transfer away from the Camp Nou, and even in a relatively subdued performance Lionel Messi managed to grab the headlines with a splendid late brace.
Of course, there is much room for improvement and the winter break is coming at the right time for the club, but as far as ending 2014 goes, this was a positive finish. Let's hope the players enjoy their time off and return refreshed, ready to challenge Real Madrid on multiple fronts. Who knows? 2015 might be our year after all...