Despite starting on the bench, Lionel Messi inspired a crucial comeback for Barcelona in a five-goal thriller away at Real Betis on Sunday.
The Argentine entered the field in the second half with his side 1-0 down - scoring just three minutes after coming on - and by the time the final whistle had gone, the Catalonian outfit were leaving Seville with a vital 3-2 win and all three points.
Reinforcing his importance to Ronald Koeman's side, the fascinating forward extended his ever-growing goal tally to 13 in the league, as he looks to recapture his 11th La Liga title this season.
Next up for Messi and co. in their effort to catch Atletico Madrid is a home fixture with Deportivo Alaves on Saturday night.
With Messi and Barcelona's impressive form in mind and the visitors teetering on the brink of relegation, Blaugrana will be confident of securing a seventh consecutive win at the Camp Nou.
Given the fact that the Argentine has a prolific goal record and impressive win percentage against the Basque outfit, this seems even more likely - let's delve into the statistics.
Messi averages a goal a game against Los Babazorros, with 11 in 11 across all competitions, and two assists for good measure - providing a goal contribution every 0.8 games.
He has only lost once to them in his career, a 2-1 defeat at the Camp Nou in which he played an hour - the hosts have never lost when he has played the full 90.
Barcelona have scored 27 goals in the eight games that the superb South American has scored in, while Alaves have only registered three in that time - the Catalonian outfit have also won every single game. Lucky charm.
The Argentine has scored a hat trick of braces against the Vitoria-Gasteiz outfit, can he extend this record at the weekend?
Here are four of Messi's best performances against Alaves.
Four of the best
Barcelona 3-1 Alaves
Copa del Rey final
May 27, 2017
In the final game at the Vicente Calderon, a Messi masterclass helped Barcelona in becoming the first side since the 1950s to win three consecutive Copa del Reys.
The Argentine put the Catalonians ahead in the fixture, playing a one-two with Neymar amongst a crowd of Alaves bodies, before exquisitely curling the ball into the bottom left corner from 18 yards.
Valiantly fighting back, Alaves equalised just minutes later from a stunning Theo Hernandez free kick, but the plight of Barcelona's attacking quality remained too much for Los Babazorros.
Neymar regained the lead for Luis Enrique's side, and Messi played a crucial role in the third, dancing through Alaves players with ease to provide Paco Alcacer with an easy tap in.
A third successive victory in the tournament was Luis Enrique's ninth trophy in just three seasons, as Messi's 54th goal ensured his team's dominance would continue.
Alaves 0-5 Barcelona
July 19, 2020
Finishing the La Liga season with 25 goals, Messi's two goals against Alaves ensured that the Barcelona talisman won his fourth Golden Boot in a row, to take his overall tally to seven.
His first involvement in the game was an assist, however, with his deflected cross falling into the path of Ansu Fati who finished from close range to put the visitors ahead.
Doubling his side's lead 10 minutes later, Messi coolly slotted the ball past Jimenez for the second.
Goals from Suarez and Semedo had all but settled the tie within an hour, and the brilliant number 10 added insult to injury by scoring the fifth, finishing a clever half-volley from six yards out.
Alaves 0-2 Barcelona
August 26, 2017
In another dominant display at the Mendizorrotza, Messi redeemed an early penalty miss by bagging a brace in a closely-contested encounter.
After Gerard Pique was fouled in the box by Rodrigo Ely, the Argentine was presented with a perfect opportunity to put Barca ahead, but his spotkick was saved by Pacheco as the tie remained goalless at half time.
The second half told an entirely different tale - and it didn't suit Alaves. Messi struck twice in the first 20 minutes to the disappointment of the home fans and delight of the travelling Catalonians.
The win continued an impressive early start in a successful season for Barcelona that concluded in their 25th league title victory.
Barcelona 3-0 Alaves
August 18, 2018
The aforementioned league title would earn Barcelona a guard of honor from Alaves at the Camp Nou, in the first game of the 2018/19 La Liga season, and Messi picked up where he left off.
Messi opened the scoring in the second half with an expert low-driven free kick under the wall that etched itself into the club's history books as their 6000th goal.
A trademark long-range strike from Philippe Coutinho put the game beyond Alaves' reach in the 83rd minute, before Messi grabbed the third in injury time to open his campaign with a brace.
The amazing Argentine notched up 36 goals and 13 assists in the league as Barcelona retained their title in impressive fashion.
Tip of the Fixture
In a clash that has been known for its late goals in recent years, both teams to score in the second half is 11/5 on Paddy Power.
(Odds correct at time of writing and are subject to change).
By Owen Thompson