Real Madrid put Deportivo La Coruna to the sword as they fought back from a goal down to emerge 7-1 victors at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Zinedine Zidane's side came into the clash on the back of a three-match winless run in La Liga, and their afternoon got off to a bad start when Adrian Lopez gave Depor the lead midway through the first half.
But they responded in style as Nacho, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo all bagged braces, while Luka Modric managed to get off the mark for the season in a huge comeback win.
The hosts looked determined to turn their fortunes around and they were quickly on the attack, with Ronaldo heading Bale's cross from the right well over the crossbar in the fourth minute.
Ruben was called into action for the first time two minutes later when he caught Borja Mayoral's first-time volley from Modric's cut-back on the right.
Good work from Lucas Perez led to Depor's first chance on 16 minutes as he made his way into the area before picking out Pedro Mosquera, whose tame shot was comfortably saved by Keylor Navas.
Perez had a hand in the opener seven minutes later when he got in behind the defence from Florin Andone's flick and squared the ball across the face of goal for Lopez to tap in at the back post.
Los Blancos immediately went in search of the equaliser, with Marcelo flashing a volley just wide of the right post from Bale's cross on the right in the 26th minute, before Ronaldo drew a brilliant save out of Ruben with a header at the back post from the Brazilian's cross two minutes later.
Marcelo threatened again on the half-hour mark as he advanced into the area and hit the left post with low shot that squirmed through Ruben, who recovered to smother the ball.
Real were back on level terms two minutes later, though, when Nacho guided Marcelo's square pass across the keeper into the right corner of the net.
Ruben was well placed to claim Modric's header from Dani Carvajal's floated cross on the right in the 34th minute, but there was nothing he could do to keep out Bale, who collected a cross on the right and shifted to his left before curling an unstoppable shot into the top-left corner of the goal on 42 minutes.
The champions were relentless in the second half as they scored five times, although it could easily have been more. Modric fired wide of the near post on 52 minutes after being teed up by Bale, while Casemiro forced Ruben into a superb save with a bullet header at the back post six minutes later.
However, Bale had the beating of Ruben from the resulting corner with a glancing header that went in just under the bar.
Mayoral should have extended Real's lead five minutes later from Bale's clipped cross, but he headed wide of the left post with the goal at his mercy.
Modric got in on the act in the 68th minute with a clinical finish from inside the D after being set up by Ronaldo's neat flick, before Depor almost pulled a goal back moments later as Andone scuffed a shot over the bar from six yards out.
Ronaldo somehow missed the target on 72 minutes as he chested the ball down and volleyed wide of the right post from just eight yards out, but he finally got on the scoresheet six minutes later with a simple tap-in at the back post from Casemiro's cross on the right.
The Portuguese forward's final action saw him score again on 84 minutes with a brave header from Lucas Vazquez's cross on the right. He took a boot to the head in the process and left the pitch for treatment.
Real continued to pour forward in the closing stages and Carvajal tested Ruben with a powerful strike after latching onto a long ball over the top in the 88th minute, before Nacho completed the rout with an angled shot the turn from the resulting corner.
Zinedine Zidane says he won't quit as Real Madrid boss ahead of facing Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
The Spanish League champions were unbeaten in ten games until losing 3-0 to Barcelona in December 2017.
Since that heavy blow, Los Blancos have drawn 2-2 with Celta Vigo and lost to Villarreal to fall 19 points off the pace, in fifth place. They also struggled to defeat Leganes in their Copa del Rey encounter on Thursday, but progressed thanks to an 89th minute Marco Asensio winner.
Zidane though, is expecting all three points against 18th placed Deportivo, and has no intentions of stepping away from his role with the club.
He said: "I don't think about negative things, only positive. We will find positive things. I'm never going to throw in the towel. I'm going to continue fighting as I've always shown and I'm not going to quit ever."
Zidane will have Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all available for the first time in months, although all three may not start the weekend's tie.
"The three of them are going to be with us, but I'm not going to say who will play. I'm very happy to be able to count on these three great players, they offer a lot to the team," added Zidane.
Surprise-package Real Betis are in great form and will no doubt hope to give La Liga leaders Barcelona plenty of problems in Sunday evening's clash at Estadio Benito Villamarín in Sevilla.
After scoring eight goals and recording wins against Sevilla and Leganes in their last two matches, Betis have shown threat in attack. Ex-Barca youth product Cristian Tello got two goals in the victories, taking his tally to six for the season in all competitions. He will be out to produce his best against his former team.
Luis Suárez was off the boil in the early part of the campaign in front of goal but the 30-year-old soon caught fire. With 13 goals in 16 La Liga appearances he seems back to his devastating best. Yet, his overall record of just 14 strikes in 26 games in all competitions isn't quite as impressive, meaning the Uruguay star could be one to watch.
Los Verdiblancos come into the contest with three wins in their last five league matches and have moved up to eighth spot in the standings. As such, manager Quique Setién wants his team to take the game to Barca.
He told reporters, "We will be brave because we have to be against Barcelona, %u200B%u200Bin some moments you will have no choice but to be subjugated by Barcelona and defend, it happens to all teams, but we will try to make that happen as little as possible."
Meanwhile the visitors suffered a surprise defeat in the Copa del Rey to Espanyol in mid-week, suffering their first loss since losing to Real Madrid in the Super Cup in August.
As such, boss Ernesto Valverde believes his team need to produce a positive reaction and start winning games again. The 53-year-old said: "I liked my team because they had a good attitude, the pitch was hard to combine everything. We tried to do what we know and there are things you have to accept, they defended and ran and we congratulate them. We will look for a response."
For the hosts, Zouhair Feddal and Aissa Mandi return from bans and are expected to start. Forwards Joel Campbell and Antonio Sanabria are out with injury along with defender Antonio Barragan.
Recent Barca signing Philippe Coutinho is still injured while fellow recruit Ousmane Dembele will also not feature due to a knock. Paulinho, Andres Iniesta, Samuel Umtiti, Paco Alcacer and Javier Mascherano are all doubtful with knocks.
Yerry Mina is expected to become a key player for Barcelona having signed for the Spanish league leaders from Palmeiras this month.
The Colombian centre-back was snapped up for £10m, which is a fraction of the £140m the club paid for Philippe Coutinho.
The 23-year-old former Deportivo Pasto and Santa Fe defender is seen as a long-term replacement for an ageing Barca backline, and was brought to the club earlier than initially expected.
He is the first Colombian to play for Barcelona but has been a long-term target of the club, who helped his move to Palmeiras in 2016 to aid his development.
South American football expert Austin Miller recently said that Mina was "one of the best players in South America during 2016 and 2017".
And Colombian-based football journalist Simon Edwards also shares that sentiment.
He told WFI's South American Football Show: "He's an exceptional player. I haven't seen a player like him for many, many years, in terms of his physicality and the way he bullies the opposition.
"He's a very jovial, upbeat kind of guy. Dancing around, and lifting people in the dressing room, but he's also a fierce competitor."
His former coaches at Pasto also attested to his talent. Youth coach Diego Dulce said: "He was a very humble player, focused, knew what he wanted, and never lost sight of his goals. He never settled and always had big ambitions."
And Fernando Figueroa added: "He has good technique, good passing skills, good physique, and game intelligence. He came as a defensive midfielder, but we were looking for centre-backs and once I put him there, that's where he improved. He was a very respectful guy."
Barcelona right-back Sergi Roberto has put pen to paper on a four-year extension with the Spanish giants, the club announced on Friday.
His new deal will see him remain with Blaugrana until at least 2022 after impressing for the Ernesto Valverde-coached outfit in 2017/18. Barca enjoy a healthy lead in La Liga and it seems more than likely they will scoop the title this season.
The team also said that the player's contract included a €500 million buyout clause for the versatile 25-year-old. The Reus-born star has the capability to operate in a number of positions including across the midfield and at full-back as well.
The Spanish press report that Roberto's previous deal had a buyout clause worth a miserly €30 million and that the Catalonians were vulnerable to bids from any number of European rivals across the continent.
The news of the extension of the star's agreement with Barcelona came just a day after it was confirmed that key defender Gerard Piqué also signed a new contract. The cultured 30-year-old centre-back will stay with the 24-time league champions until 2022.
Real Madrid approach Saturday afternoon's La Liga clash with Deportivo La Coruna at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu looking to end a run of three league games without a win.
Both teams are struggling for form. Los Blancos did manage to record a 1-0 Copa Del Rey win over Leganes earlier this week, but in the league they have won only two of their last seven matches to fall a massive 19 points behind Barcelona.
There has been talk this week that manager Zinedine Zidane will quit the club in June. For now though he's focused on the next game and says that the win over Leganes on Thursday was a step in the right direction, if not an entirely satisfactory performance, from what was largely a second-string team.
"We have to get back to winning games, keeping clean sheets," he said. "[Thursday] was a step that way. We cannot say we played a great game, but we got an important result in the tie.
"Today we played a bit worse than against Villarreal last weekend, but we scored and we won.
"We hope this is a turning point. We are happy with the result. We need this for confidence. Sometimes things get a bit more difficult, but we must be patient and know we can come through all together.
"The result is very positive for us. Now we want three or four results in a row."
Deportivo La Coruna have problems of their own: they have won only one of their last nine league games and are in the relegation zone, two points adrift of safety.
Captain Pedro Mosquera says unity at the club is crucial if they are to improve their situation, and also feels that there have been recent signs of improvement.
"If we correct those small mistakes that have cost us a lot during the first round, the second can be good. There has to be a change.
"Those details make a difference between gaining points and not gaining them. It's due to focus. I don't believe it's due to attitude. We have to be in the game and correct the small mistakes that give and take away points.
"In the second round, we have to be a family, us, fans, and even you. We have to work in the same direction. We can't ask our fans for more because they're always there, they're the ones who support us.
"In the last two matches we only gained one point. They were tough rivals but there were moments, stages of the match, where the team played at a very good level. We have to hold on to those minutes and try and prolong them for a longer time and try to keep our goal at zero," Mosquera told his club's website.
Cristiano Ronaldo has not scored in three league matches but with his career average, it's pretty likely that his next goal will come soon. With Karim Benzema out injured, Ronaldo, who was rested for a cup match in midweek, becomes even more crucial.
Adrian Lopez was named as his club's best player for December after some lively performances up front although it's Romanian Florin Andone who has been the visiting side's most potent weapon this season with five goals in 15 league appearances.
Benzema is recovering from a leg muscle problem. Sergio Ramos, Marcos Llorente and Jesus Vallejo are also injury doubts for the hosts.
Right wing Federico Cartabia is Deportivo's only reported injury absentee, although Sidnei is also doubtful.
Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane made an argument for substance over style after Thursday's 1-0 win over Leganes in the Copa del Rey.
Los Blancos had not won in the three matches prior to the quarter-final first-leg at Estadio Municipal de Butarque, where Marco Asensio found the net in the 89th minute.
"It is important to get a win for the team's confidence, and we kept a clean sheet," said Varane.
"The coach told us we needed balance and the team's focus was great. We played worse than the other day but won. Other times we have played well and lost.
"We want to win and get on a good run. We are playing the same as last year but things are not coming together. We enjoy winning we love to compete and relish coming out on top."
Madrid find themselves fourth in the Spanish league standings, 19 points behind Barcelona, leaving the cup competitions as their best hopes for winning silverware.
While they will expect to finish off Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu next week, Varane insisted that Real are not thinking about their Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain in February.
"We're not thinking about the PSG tie yet, we're just focused on winning games. We have many games left, we want to get better and be hard to beat like today."
Gerard Pique has extended his contract with Barcelona until 2022, the runaway Primera Division side have confirmed.
The 30-year-old centre back began his career as a junior with the Catalan side, and after a few years in England with Manchester United, he returned to Barca in 2008.
The World Cup winning defender has played a total of 422 games, scoring 37 goals,
A statement on the Barca site read: "FC Barcelona and player Gerard Pique have reached an agreement to renew the player's contract through to 30 June 2022. His buyout clause has been set at 500m euros.
"In the coming days the club will announce the date of the official signing of the new contract, which will keep the La Masia product at FC Barcelona for the rest of the current season and for the next 4 years."
The club added: "The defender, considered one of the best in the world in his position, has won everything there is to be won at club level for the Blaugrana: 3 Champions Leagues, 6 LaLiga titles, 5 Copa del Reys, 5 Spanish Supercopas, 3 European Supercups and 3 Club World Cups. In total, a player who identifies with the club more than anyone has earned 25 trophies."
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde had a stoic response to Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Espanyol in the Copa del Rey.
Lionel Messi missed a penalty before Oscar Melendo fired in the winner in the dying minutes of the match at the RCDE Stadium, but there’s still a second leg to be played at Camp Nou next week Thursday.
"We bore the brunt of the game and they waited for us to take advantage of their game plan," Valverde said after the match.
"They took the last chance they had. It was quite a dangerous place to play because they could counter any little imprecision we made.
"The penalty save gave them courage. We suffered in terms of strategy but not football. Any detail can decide a derby.
"Favourites? It’s the team that are winning or have an advantage. We have to overcome this adverse result, and we hope our fans will help us."
Valverde also responded to rumours that Inter Milan are eager to sign Rafinha, who made his first appearance in almost a year as a substitute against Espanyol.
"Rafinha is one more player that can help us," Valverde said. "We have several players injured and he’s training well. He’s improving with each day that passes."
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone had no problem with Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final.
Diego Costa put Atleti ahead in the 71st minute at the Wanda Metropolitano, but late goals from Jesus Navas and Joaquin Correa put Sevilla ahead in the tie.
"It was a difficult game. Sevilla, in the first half, had situations. It was open," Simeone said, via Marca.
"In the second, we got ahead and that was when they were the most decisive. The victory is deserved, but there is a match in Seville in a week.
"We can always and we want to improve. We will look for solutions to some difficulties we had.
"We wanted to compete. There were situations for both. The goals almost always come from mistakes and the one who commits the least gets more."
Atleti face Girona in La Liga on Saturday before the return leg in Sevilla next week Tuesday.