Rayo Vallecano opened the first 20 minutes by staying on the front foot against Barcelona, buzzing around the field, pressuring the Catalans at every turn and looking the part of a team that believed it could earn a point or three despite long odds.
A road trip to Rayo's home digs is never easy, and in the first 20 minutes Barcelona was reminded of that fact.
So what did Rayo get for its efforts?
Oh, just a 5-0 loss and a reminder that waking the sleeping giants of Barca normally doesn't end well for opponents.
The goal-scorers for the Catalans could make up a "who's who?" list of European footballers.
David Villa opened the scoring after Rayo strong start. Lionel Messi tallied twice, taking his total for the calendar year up to an astonishing 73 goals. Xavi scored in the 79th minute off a Jordi Alba assist, and Cesc Fabregas scored just a little over a minute after off a Pedro pass.
Barcelona has now outscored Rayo 16-0 in the last three matches between the two teams. Yikes.
Of course, Barcelona should dominate the likes of Rayo; the Catalans have enough talent to beat most national teams. Barcelona has yet to lose in league play this year (eight wins, one tie), while Rayo has three wins and a tie thus far.
At least Rayo tested Barcelona's injury-depleted back line, with 18 shots (three on goal) and seven corner kicks. And give Rayo credit for playing aggressively at all—most teams sit back in a defensive shell, hope to counter and pretend like a Barca goal isn't imminent.
After a disappointing 2011-12 season (at least by their standards), Barcelona appears to be back on track for world domination. After nine league games, the Catalans have a whopping goal differential of plus-18.
The only loss the team has suffered in any competition came in a 2-1 defeat to arch rivals Real Madrid in the Super Cup.
And they've done so despite battling through injuries to Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique and Daniel Alves. Against Rayo, they also were without suspended Javier Mascherano, while against Celtic they played without the suspended Sergio Busquets.
Most teams would seriously miss such players. But Barcelona's all-star squad just plucks another stud from the bench and barely misses a beat. It must be nice, huh?
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are clutch like Romo. Sergio Romo, that is.
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