ALMERIA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 20: Lionel Messi of Barcelona takes on the UD Almeria defense during the La Liga match between UD Almeria and Barcelona at Estadio del Mediterraneo on November 20, 2010 in Almeria, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

La Liga Saturday Matchday 12: Goalfests For Barcelona And Real Madrid

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona wanted to end the matchday on top before next Mondays clash of the titans, yet it will be Jose Mourinhos team who maintained their one point advantage at the summit and enter the Clasico as league leaders. Barcelona smashed eight past a hapless Almeria, while Real Madrid responded in style with a 5-1 defeat of Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu. In the days early match, the points were shared between Villarreal and Valencia in a 1-1 draw at the Madrigal.

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La Liga Saturday Matchday 12: Goalfests For Barcelona And Real Madrid

Almeria 0 - 8 Barcelona

As preparations for a Clasico go, it doesn't get much better than this. Almeria were ripped to shreds by a rampant Barcelona who showed signs that they are hitting top form at just the right moment. From the moment the first ball was kicked it was a barrage of attacks from Barca as Lionel Messi, Pedro and David Villa picked off the Almeria defence at will. The Almeria players had stated they would fight to save their managers job, but they were utterly outclassed by an unforgiving Barca team. Xavi and Iniesta had the freedom of the park to control the match from the middle, while the ease with which Messi and Pedro got into scoring positions was embarrassing at times. There's no doubt playing against this Barcelona side in this form is a daunting task for any team, but once the third goal went in after 26 minutes, heads dropped and you feared for Juanma Lillo's men. It was hard not to feel sorry for them.

As it turned out Barcelona racked up an incredible eight goals, the first time they have done so for over half a century. Not even when they were 0-5 up at half-time did Barca take the foot off the pedal, surely desparate to strike fear into Real Madrid. It was incessant. Messi grabbed a lethal hattrick, Andres Iniesta took advantage of a defensive mishap to sidefoot in. Pedro showed lightning speed to latch onto a superb long ball from Hector Font to nick the ball past a crestfallen Diego Alves. Bojan came on as a second-half substitute to score twice and stake a solid claim for some kind of a role next Monday. Barcas performance was brutal. Unforgiving. The final whistle brought an end to the home sides misery and marked the end of Juanma Lillo's reign at Almeria. What a way to go. For Barca, though, it was the perfect way to warm up for next Mondays big one.

Real Madrid 5 - 1 Athletic Bilbao

Any who thought Barcelona's demolition job on Almeria would place extra pressure on Real Madrid to get a result were emphatically proven wrong. Athletic put up a valiant fight, especially through Fernando Llorente upfront, but Real Madrid's deadly efficiency on the break, coupled with the unerring accuracy provided by Cristiano Ronaldo meant Madrid ended up running out clear winners. Gonzalo Higuain got the ball rolling on 19 minutes when he collected a neat through-ball from the lively Angel Di Maria, to barge his way past a couple of defenders and finish past Iraizoz.

The second was a demonstration of just how devastating Real Madrid can be on the counter. Athletic had been threatening an equaliser when Real broke out of their own box, the ball flowing from Higuain to Mesut Ozil, who played a perfectly weighted pass onto Cristiano Ronaldo who fired in a cracker with his left foot. That could have been Bilbao's cue to disintegrate, but they came right back at Mourinho's side and deservedly pulled one back through Llorente, although his position when the ball ricocheted into his path looked ever so slightly offside. The third goal came after the break, Sergio Ramos converting a penalty which left the whole stadium, Mourinho included, 'Why Ramos and not CR7?' It was a bizarre situation. Nobody could think of an answer.

From the on Cristiano Ronaldo took over, smacking in a swerving free-kick, that admittedly Iraizoz should have done better with, before converting a penalty of his own after a foul from Amoriebeta on Granero. Anything Messi can do he will have thought. Athletic had fought tooth and nail but Real Madrids class was simply too much. Barcelona may have struck eight times, but this victory was evey bit as emphatic and sets up a mouth-watering fixture next Monday which will have the whole footballing world brought to a standstill.

Villarreal 1 - 1 Valencia

Two teams who had been hoping to stake their claim for third in La Liga ended up having to settle for a share of the points in a 1-1 draw at El Madrigal. Unai Emery surprised us all with an ultra-defensive 5-4-1 formation which planted topscorer Roberto Soldado on the bench, but it appeared to be working after they had soaked up some early Villarreal pressure to hit the hosts on the counter. Joaquin broke forward and having reached the byline crossed for Aritz Aduriz, who stole in infront of his marker to nick a shot towards goal that deflected off Gonzalo beofre nestling in the back of the net.

It was the perfect justification for Emery's tactics, but the plan backfired after half-time. Full-backs DeAlbert and Bruno had done well in supporting the front three in attack during the first 45 minutes, but with the aim of conserving their lead the two stayed back in the second half, which simply invited Villarreal onto them. Borja Valero and Santi Cazorla were well-marshalled by Maduro and Tino Costa, but the Valencia defence struggled to contain Guiseppe Rossi, and it was the diminutive Italian striker who met a Bruno cross to fire past Moya. In the end Valencia were left hanging on, especially after Stankevicius saw red for a nasty elbow and stamp on Marcos Ruben. The Community of Valencia derby finished a stalemate, meaning Barca and Real Madrid pulled yet further from the chasing pack.

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