Barcelona made it two games in a row without victory as they could only earn a 2-2 draw at home to Atletico on Tuesday.
It was a potentially damaging result, with Real Madrid now given the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table to four points should they defeat Getafe on Thursday.
It was still a special night for Lionel Messi, though, as he celebrated his 700th career goal for club and country.
What was Messi's overall display like?
📷 Match Snapshot
Messi looked up for this one from the get-go, embarking on a few signature dribbles through the middle as he was awarded more space than usual against Atletico.
His deliveries caused problems, particularly in the first half, and it was via a wicked corner-kick from the left wing which caused Diego Costa to get his feet tangled at the front post, leading to an own-goal from the former Chelsea striker.
Shortly after, he very nearly scored a screamer, opening up his boot to bend an attempt high towards the top corner, only for it to miss by no more than a few inches. If it was on target, Jan Oblak wasn't getting near it.
⚽ ⏱️ 50' The Argentine would eventually score his first goal of the game, and his 700th career goal overall, in typical majestic style, sending a delightful Panenka penalty down the middle of the goal.
He had six shots, two of which were blocked, two of which were on target, and two of which went off target.
With seven completed dribbles and seven crosses, he was the best performer on the pitch for those particular metrics, while only Marcos Llorente had more touches inside the box on the night.
His creativity, although not as good as his usual stratospheric standards, though his penalty goal earned him a 7.9 FC Rating.
Atletico's Saul emerged as the man of the match after his two penalty goals, earning a 8.6 FC Rating.
〽️ Rating Week-on-Week
Messi is a bit of a one-man team at the moment, as Barca have had to rely on his penalty tonight and two assists in the draw versus Celta recently.
Being up against a better side in Atletico did impact Messi on Tuesday, as he declined from a 9.6 FC Rating against Celta to a 7.9 FC Rating versus Atletico.
🗝️ Key Stats
Messi match stats
|Touches In Box||4|
|Completed Dribbles||7||Joint Rank #1|
|Final Third Passes||32||Rank #2|
Should Real Madrid defeat Getafe, they will go four points clear at the top of the table, and although that is by no means insurmountable for Barca, it represents a damaging blow in the title race with Los Blancos playing well at the moment.
As always, the pressure will be all on Messi to haul them out of this mini rut but this is a team that is in dire need of inspiration, and simply passing the ball to the Argentine is no longer an option.
Others need to begin to step up and make their presence felt, otherwise Barca will struggle to make a dent in Real Madrid's lead and relinquish this season's La Liga title.