Alexis Sanchez netted a hat trick to lead Barcelona's 4-0 rout of Elche at Camp Nou, setting up a highly anticipated showdown with Atletico Madrid next week with the title rivals sharing the Spanish league lead.
With Lionel Messi still out rehabilitating his left leg injury and Neymar watching from the dugout, Barcelona turned to its core of Spain internationals for a second straight victory on either side of the two-week winter break.
Alexis opened the scoring in the seventh minute and struck twice more in the 63rd and 69th after Pedro Rodriguez had doubled the advantage.
Barcelona's victory was its ninth in as many league games at home this season.
Alexis and Pedro lead the team with 11 league goals each.
Bale's possible return
Gareth Bale has recovered from a left leg injury and is available for Real Madrid for Monday's Spanish league home game against Celta Vigo.
Bale missed Madrid's last league match at Valencia before the two-week winter break.
He also was left off the roster for an exhibition earlier this week against Paris Saint-Germain.
Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti says Bale is healthy but that he has yet to decide whether the Wales winger will play or rest until he is in "optimum condition".
Madrid is in third place in the league behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
Meanwhile, Carlos Bacca scored one goal and set up two more to help Sevilla beat Getafe 3-0 at home, provisionally lifting the club into sixth place in the Spanish league.
Victor Machin worked a one-two with Bacca before opening the scoring in the 34th minute.
Bacca doubled the lead in the 59th from close range after a free kick by Rakitic that Federico Fazio sent to the Colombian striker.
Bacca then capped his performance in the 77th by stealing the ball and unselfishly laying off for Rakitic to score.
Sevilla has won five games in a six-game unbeaten streak in the league.