For the first time since 1965, Barcelona on Sunday kicked off at Camp Nou at the callow hour of midday. Two hours later, Getafe had been swept away by a claret and blue tide, led by the majestic Andrés Iniesta. The familiar terrace jibe of "can we play you every week" might in Barcelona's case be modified to "can we play at this time every week?"
Certainly, the Chinese audience to which the early start was geared would be happy to see the same team every week. Barcelona slipped effortlessly through its own gear box after Alexis Sánchez latched on to Iniesta's through ball to open the scoring with just six minutes on the clock. Leo Messi added another shortly afterward, the Argentinean extending his record scoring streak in La Liga to 13 games. Unluckily for Getafe, which held on at two down until half time, Barça was far from finished. David Villa, Cristian Tello, Iniesta and Gerard Piqué provided a rare distribution of names on the score sheet as the home side cruised to a 6-1 win, Álvaro Vázquez denying Víctor Valdés an equally infrequent clean sheet.
"It was a beautiful day, there were lots of kids in the stadium and I'd like to thank the fans, they deserve a special mention because it was a great party at a not-so-normal hour," said Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura, who also singled out the peerless Iniesta for praise: "The way he makes soccer look so natural, with so much ease, makes him an even greater player."
On Saturday evening Cristiano Ronaldo also produced a virtuoso display, a timely tonic for those in the Bernabéu reaching for a touch of Dutch courage before Wednesday's Champions League date with Robin van Persie and Manchester United. The league is long gone — Barcelona remains 16 points clear at the top and Real Madrid's domestic battle is now with city rival Atlético for second place — but the Portuguese winger's exhibition in a 4-1 win over Sevilla proved once again that on his day, there is little that can stop him.
Ronaldo's first was a work of art; picking up the ball on the edge of the area, he bamboozled Hedwiges Maduro with lightning feet and drilled home from 25 yards. His second was opportunistic; in stole the forward after a defensive error from Fazio and in went the ball, angled beyond the despairing reach of Beto. His third was crafted on the edge of Real's area and finished when Ronaldo tapped in a return pass from Gonzalo Higuaín. In the interim, the number 7 had covered the length of the pitch in a flash.
It was a complete hat-trick from a complete player. There is never a good time to play Sir Alex Ferguson's team, even at 12pm, but with Ronaldo in this form this is as good a time as any.
In the case of Deportivo la Coruña, any time is a good time to take on the Galician side at the moment. Rock bottom of Primera División and without an away win all season, Deportivo needs to capitalize on what little home advantage Riazor offers. A 0-3 loss to visiting Granada offered little hope for newly promoted Depor lasting more than a season in the top flight.
Other results: Levante 1-2 Málaga; Celta 0-1 Valencia; Mallorca 1-1 Osasuna; Zaragoza 1-2 Real Sociedad.