Madrid: Antoine Griezmann delivered a resounding message to Barcelona by scoring four goals against Leganes ahead of Atletico Madrid's crunch match at the Nou Camp on Sunday.
Atletico and their French maestro will head to Catalonia brimming with confidence after subjecting lowly Leganes to a 4-0 demolition, with Griezmann again the star of the show.
His quadruple, fired off in 32 minutes either side of half-time, means he now has seven goals in two games, and 12 in his last nine. For comparison, Lionel Messi has hit five goals in the same period.
Atletico have also cut the gap at the top of La Liga to four points, before Barcelona play their game in hand at Las Palmas on Thursday.
But Griezmann will be the player in focus before the weekend, his form handed extra pertinence given Barca were forced last month to deny they had already struck a deal to sign the 26-year-old.
After Zinedine Zidane paid the price for resting Cristiano Ronaldo in Real's defeat to Espanyol on Tuesday, Diego Simeone chose not to preserve his own stars as Griezmann, Diego Costa and Angel Correa all started.
Both teams rounded the centre circle before kick-off for a minute's silence in memory of Enrique Castro, the former Barcelona and Spain striker, who died on Tuesday.