Ousmane Dembele scored one and made three as Barça beat Athletic Club. Xavi’s team remains within three points of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga.
Dembele opened the scoring with a header and then set up goals for Sergi Roberto, Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres in a scintillating display.
It proved an unhappy return to Camp Nou for Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde. The Basque coach left Barça in 2019 after winning back-to-back league titles.
With Bayern Munich to come on Wednesday — even though Barça’s Champions Leagues hopes have faded — Xavi made changes to the side that beat Villarreal 3-0 on Thursday.
Dembele was one of the players to come in and he dazzled with a goal and two assists inside the opening 22 minutes.
He opened the scoring with a header from close range after Lewandowski had crossed following Unai Simon’s save from a long-ranger Dembele curler.
Dembele then fed Sergi Roberto, whose effort deflected off Inigo Martinez to beat Simon in the visiting goal.
Lewandowski then added the third halfway through the first half, controlling a Dembele pass on the spin before rifling home his 17th goal of the season in all competitions.
Barça’s joy was briefly disrupted when Gavi had to leave the field with an injury. Although early indications are he did not suffer anything serious.
Pedri hit the post after the break and Ansu Fati fired over after Frenkie de Jong surged forward before the fourth goal finally arrived.
Dembele was again the provider, feeding Ferran, who made it three goals in as many games with a fine finish.
Barça could have added a fifth. But they also could concede. A rare error from Marc-Andre ter Stegen let Athletic in. But the defense were able to eventually clear the ball off the line.