Barcelona started with an unconventional lineup for the second straight week, but this time took the victory in a 4-0 domination of Deportivo la Coruna. Luis Enrique certainly had one eye on the Manchester City fixture during the midweek. The 3-4-3 made its return as well.
Rafinha took advantage of his chance and put forth a brace, and both Neymar and Luis Suárez performed well.
In the 8th minute Barca had their first chance. Rafinha made a crisp pass over the defense for Neymar, who's volley hit the top crossbar. It fell to Luis Suarez who missed a headed attempt off the rebound. It wasn't a miss anyone would expect from Suarez.
Neymar almost made it 1-0 with a free kick in the 14th minute. With Messi on the bench, free kick duty was his. He angled just over the crossbar.
The midfield struggled in the early part of the game, and the game went back and forth between both sides throughout the middle of the first half.
Barca finally got on the board in the 22nd minute when Rafinha tallied. He took the ball from Fernando Navarro deep in the Deportivo half. He played the one-two with Suarez, who set Rafinha up with a short pass. The Brazilian slotted the ball all on target through German Lux, who was disappointed that the ball went right underneath his arm.
After the goal Barca settled into the game comfortably, keeping the ball in the opposing half and looking to create chances whenever they could. They swarmed the Deportivo area and were constantly threatening for the second.
Deportivo were affected early on with an injury to their starting centerback Sidnei. He attempted to continue playing, but could only muster a limp and had to be replaced.
Rafinha scored tallied a brace in the 36th minute. Off a Neymar free kick from near midfield, Pique's header was saved by Lux, but it fell right in front of Rafinha who scored the tap-in to give Barcelona a 2-0 lead.
Barca wrapped the game up towards the end of the first half. Neymar threaded a ball through Deportivo's defense and found a lurking Suarez in the area, who took a dribble and slotted in the third goal.
Suarez almost scored a brace a minute later. He took a shot from the right side and while it got by Lux, it hit off the post. Barcelona still went into the break comfortably ahead.
Rotating heavily for the second straight game from hihs usual Gala XI, Luis Enrique's lineup worked out on this day as his team is now fresh for the midweek Champions League clash.
Barcelona had no issues to start the second half, as they picked up where they had left off. Deportivo barely had a look at the ball.
A standout of the match was Lucas Digne, who played in place of the injured Jordi Alba. He impressed as he locked down his side of the field the few times that Deportio had a bit of a chance at attacking. He made a claim for himself to become a more frequent starter, at the least.
The rest of the backline did its job well, not allowing a single shot on target.
4Neymar did not miss a beat from international break. After leading Brazil to a pair of victories, he came back to Barca in his electric form providing assists.
Messi, after missing three weeks of action with a groin injury, scored almost immediately after coming on. Neymar provided a skillful through ball by the Deportivo defense on the left side and Messi needed only one touch to lift a strike into the net. It was a sight most Barca fans longed to see again.
Deportivo has dropped to ten men after Laure was sent off with a straight red card after elbowing Neymar in the face. It wasn't a surprise, as Neymar and Laure had been at each other all game, and Laure has previously been cautioned by the referee.
In the 71st minute, a moment of Messi brilliance set Alcacer with a chance. While it was a good header, it deflected off Lux and hit the post. Alcacer had another chance just a moment later, but again couldn't convert as he hit the ball right at the goalkeeper Lux despite pass from Piqué. He missed another open net at the very end of the game that he will be hugely disappointed to have missed. Alcacer still hasn't found the back of the net for Barca.
Messi proceeded to be everywhere on the pitch. As one would expect, Messi didn't look like he was just coming off a long layoff. He was all over the pitch helping create chances for his teammates.
Jeremy Mathieu had a goal canceled out due to an offside call as well, though it was a close call.
Marc-André ter Stegen barely had anything to do on the day, as he didn't even have a shot on target on his goal. He only had to make 16 passes as well, a quiet day for him. Regardless, Ter Stegen kept his fourth clean-sheet of the season, his third in La Liga.
Barcelona at the minimum maintained their 4th place position in La Liga, and can go as high as 2nd place if both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid drop points in their fixtures.