Lionel Messi is back in form and Barcelona are finding their feet after a 4-0 demolition of Granada on Saturday put them within four points of the top of La Liga.
An emphatic victory puts Barca's insight of league leaders Atletico Madrid but Diego Simeone's side remains first after Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw by Osasuna.
It was a chance missed for Real after Atletico’s match at home to Athletic Bilbao earlier on Saturday had been postponed due to the snowstorm that has engulfed Spain this weekend.
Atleti are now a point ahead of Real and four clear of Barcelona, with three games in hand over both.
Messi scored twice to make it four goals in three matches for him since the turn of the year and his resurgence has coincided with an upturn for the team too, this victory Barca’s third on the bounce.
Messi’s double, the second a sweetly-struck free-kick, came between two strikes from Antoine Griezmann, who is also enjoying a revival after a disappointing 18 months at Camp Nou.
Some had wondered if Messi would ever get back to his best following an underwhelming start to the season but his latest contribution makes him the league’s top scorer on 11 goals, five months after he tried to leave.
Barcelona’s recovery has a long way to run, with unresolved issues on and off the pitch likely to resurface before the end of the season.
Yet Koeman will hope a corner has been turned and at a good time, with the Champions League last 16 ties against Paris St Germain to come next month and a large chunk of the league calendar still remaining.
Barca’s first goal was fortunate after Roberto Soldado’s lashed clearance saw the ball sliced backward to Griezmann, who touched and shot past Rui Silva.
Griezmann was the instigator for the second too, the Frenchman driving forward to the edge of the area before transferring inside to Messi. Messi was given the yard he needed to shift onto his left foot and curl home.
Messi made it three from a similar position, just on the edge of the box, this time with a free-kick, which he harpooned into the corner. Source: AFP