MADRID/Nigeria: FC Barcelona produced arguably the most impressive performance of Xavi’s tenure as the Blaugrana made something of a statement in their 4-2 defeat of Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone brought up Xavi’s past criticism of Atletico Madrid’s style of play in the build-up.
But the latter had the last laugh at Camp Nou as Barca replaced Los Colchoneros in fourth.
The visitors did enjoy a promising start with Yannick Carrasco’s well-worked opener eight minutes in, but Barca were soon ahead thanks to Jordi Alba’s excellent volley and a Gavi header.
Ronald Araujo increased Barca’s lead just before half-time and Dani Alves blasted in a fourth for his first goal since his return.
Luis Suarez pulled one back against his former club and Alves was dismissed, but Barca went on to claim a deserved win.
Atletico Madrid led in style as Suarez latched onto Koke’s excellent pass and fed Carrasco into the penalty box, with the Belgian sweeping his first-time finish into the bottom-left corner.
They were pegged back just two minutes later when Dani Alves crossed to the left.
Jordi Alba met it with a spectacular sliced volley that spun high into the far corner of the net.
Another Barca cross proved decisive soon after as the hosts went in front, with debutant Adama Traore seeing his pinpoint delivery nodded in by Gavi.
Araujo then made it 3-1 late in the half, smashing in from close range after Ferran Torres headed Alves’ free-kick onto the crossbar.
Alves became the fourth-oldest player to score in La Liga this century early in the second half, drilling home from Alba’s cut-back.
Barca were made to suffer as Suarez headed in and Alves was sent off for scraping his studs down Carrasco’s calf, but Atletico Madrid could not salvage a result.