Barcelona took another step towards the title after coming from behind to beat Almeria 3-1 and keep their eight point lead at the top of the table in La Liga.
Earlier Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 and with the top two sides due to meet next week at the Bernabeu a Barça loss could have added spice to the match.
Barça coach Pep Guardiola warned of the importance of winning this game with some difficult matches ahead, but decided to rest several players after their mid-week UEFA Champions League victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.
In midfield youngster Thiago Alcantara was given a rare start, while Bojan Krkic played in attack and the changes appeared to affect the rhythm of the side. Javier Mascherano picked up a yellow card and will miss the game against Real Madrid through suspension.
In the second half Pablo Piatti broke for Almeria and played in Miguel Corona who gave the visitors the lead, but the goal eventually brought Barcelona to life. David Villa having come on for Bojan was brought down in the box and Lionel Messi converted the penalty.
Then Thiago headed home a corner and in stoppage time Messi struck again to give a convincing win in the end.
Real Madrid kept on Barcelona's trail with a Kaka brace from the penalty spot helping them to a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.