After setting a Spanish record 35 matches unbeaten in all competitions, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is relishing the run-in to the end of the season with his side on course for a second successive Primera Liga, Copa del Rey and Uefa Champions League treble.
Barcelona visit Eibar on Sunday with an eight-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of standings with 11 matches to go.
They take a 2-0 lead into the home leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Arsenal next week and face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on May 22.
For Enrique, all the hard work during the season had brought them to this point.
FIVE MUST-SEE MATCHES: Title clashes aplenty as Spurs host Arsenal, Dortmund face Bayern
“Now is when the nicest part of the season starts, you are where you wanted from the beginning, fighting for titles,” Enrique said after Thursday’s 5-1 win over Rayo Vallecano.
“Then we must see what we achieve. For now, I’m pleased with how the season has progressed, all the work that has brought us here.
“(There is) attitude, intensity and finishing. When Barca manages to be like that you create danger from the first minute and it’s hard to stop them.”
His prolific front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez have scored a combined 62 goals in the Primera Liga after Messi scored a hat-trick on Thursday.
Atletico, who visit Valencia on Sunday, have not given up the title chase, however bleak their chances seem.
Diego Simeone’s side have won four and drawn one of their last five matches. Their 1-0 derby win at the Santiago Bernabeu last weekend left Real Madrid 12 points adrift in third.
Madrid, who are at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday, have been troubled by injury and fitness woes, but defender Pepe was full of praise for the team’s commitment as they try to put the derby defeat behind them.
“We made a huge effort, the team worked very hard, from the goalkeeper to Borja Mayoral. We stood up, the fans demand work and that’s what we did ... sweat our shirts,” said Pepe, who returned from a long injury absence at Levante on Wednesday where Madrid won 3-1.
Coach Zinedine Zidane has had a good response from a clutch of young players promoted from the junior ranks including striker Mayoral, who stood in for the injured Karim Benzema.
Midfielder Luka Modric (ankle) and left back Marcelo (muscle fatigue) were also back in training on Thursday and could return against Celta.
FIXTURES (all times UAE)
Real Madrid v Celta Vigo (7pm)
Villarreal v Las Palmas (9.15pm)
Getafe v Sevilla (11.30)
Deportivo la Coruna v Malaga (1.05am)
Real Betis v Granada (3pm)
Eibar v Barcelona (7pm)
Sporting Gijón v Athletic Bilbao (9.15pm)
Real Sociedad v Levante (9.15pm)
Valencia v Atletico Madrid (11.30pm)
Espanyol v Rayo Vallecano (11.30pm)
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport