Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi celebrates the first of his goals for Barcelona against Getafe. Reuters

Barcelona produced a breathtaking performance to blow Getafe away and, at least temporarily, extend their advantage over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga to five points. Barcelona were 5-0 up before halftime at the Camp Nou, with their brilliant attacking trio, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez, all scoring before even the 30-minute mark had been reached. Xavi soon added a fourth, before Suárez and Messi struck their second goals either side of the halftime break.

A Getafe side lying 13th in La Liga simply had no answer to what, particularly in the opening half, was a performance of the quality perhaps not seen at the home of the Catalans since the all-conquering Pep Guardiola era. With just four games remaining, Barcelona are closing in on the title, and have put the onus on Real Madrid to respond against Almeria on Wednesday. But this was about more than just the points, and will have sent a stark warning to Bayern Munich ahead of next week’s eagerly awaited Champions League semifinal first leg.

Barcelona’s front line took their tally for the season above 100 goals in all competitions, surpassing the mark set by Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry when Guardiola’s team won the treble in 2008-2009. Such is the continued quality of their interplay and their decisiveness in front of goal that the question is no longer whether they are the greatest forward combination in the world today, but just where they rank among the best of all time.

This win, too, was about a sensational display from Xavi. The 35-year-old has become an increasingly bit-part player as he nears the end of his incredible career at the Camp Nou, but he produced a performance on Tuesday that rolled back the years.

Barcelona had already threatened before they were given a chance to go in front nine minutes in. From Marc Bartra’s low ball in, Suárez appeared marginally offside before being tripped by Alvaro Arroyo right on the edge of the box. A penalty was awarded and Messi dispatched a “Panenka” chip right down the middle, displaying the aplomb with which Barcelona were to dismantle their beleaguered opponents for the rest of the half.

It may have been different, though, had Claudio Bravo not managed to scramble back to claw Fredy Hinestroza’s lob clever lob off the line. Soon any hope that the visitors had of getting anything from the contest were spectacularly extinguished in an incredible five-minute spell around the half-hour mark. Next to score was Suárez, adjusting wonderfully to Messi’s ball in from the right and expertly volleying past Vicente Guaita. The Uruguayan then turned provider, finding Neymar in the box after Rafinha won the ball back, allowing the Brazilian star to step inside his defender and finish low into the corner making the brilliant look routine.

The best, though, was yet to come. Not known for his goal-scoring, Xavi added a delightful fourth for Barcelona, curling into the top corner from 20 yards after a one-two with Neymar. Five minutes before the interval, Xavi did what he does best, showing incredible awareness to touch the ball off for Suárez to replicate the midfielder’s own finish of just a few minutes before.

There was no surprise that such brilliance and intensity wasn’t replicated in the second half, and Luis Enrique withdrew Sergio Busquets at the break in a nod to the huge games Barcelona have to come. Still, the Catalans produced an immediate signal that they weren’t taking their foot off the gas completely. Within two minutes of the restart, Suárez’s chip found Messi and the former and quite possible future world player of the year used a defender's presence to bend the ball into the fall corner. It could have been more, but Barcelona had already done more than enough to show that a treble should very much be in their sights.