Barcelona, Spain – It looked as if Barcelona could not be stopped during the first half of the La Liga season.
The Catalans dropped just two points through their first 19 league contests but have gone on to take just four points from three matches since. They were held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia last time out, and the La Liga leaders will be hoping to bounce back with a positive result against Getafe at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Barcelona is entering a crucial stage of the season, maintaining a nine-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid. The Catalans are in play to claim three trophies this season as the Champions League and Copa del Rey tournaments are on the horizon.
But even with the prospect of a treble staring them down, defender Gerard Pique insists that the players are not getting ahead of themselves.
"We're taking it game by game, and we're training very hard and well," Pique told FIFA's official website in a recent interview. "The way you train is the way you play, and in the end if you train well, you'll play well. That's how we approach matches and it never changes, not even when the pressure is at its greatest."
The pressure may be set to come during this vital stretch, but it may subside for one more week.
Getafe enters the weekend as a massive underdog to Barcelona. The club, sitting in the bottom-half of the table with 29 points through 22 games, is nine points clear of the relegation zone and has little at stake.
The two sides squared off against one another in September and Barcelona cruised to comfortable 4-1 victory. That should certainly add a bit of fuel to Getafe's fire, but the fact that the replay is at Barcelona's home ground, a place where so few teams come away with a result, is likely to be too daunting for Los Azulones.
Hoping to keep pace with (or close the gap on, depending on the result) Barcelona is Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone's side climbed to within nine points of Barcelona with a 1-0 defeat of Real Betis last weekend. On Sunday, Los Rojiblancos will face another tough test when they head to the Tersea Rivero to take on seventh-place Rayo Vallecano.
Also on Sunday, Athletic Bilbao welcomes Espanyol to San Mames and Real Sociedad heads to La Romareda to take on Real Zaragoza.
Real Madrid's disappointing season continued last time out when Jose Mourinho's side suffered a 1-0 to lowly Granada, its fifth league loss of the campaign. They will look to rebound on Saturday when they welcome Sevilla to the Bernabeu.
Leading into that fixture on Saturday, Deportivo hosts Granada at the Riazor, Levante welcomes Malaga to Ciutat de Valencia, Celta Vigo squares off against Valencia at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos and Osasuna heads to the Iberostar Stadium to face Mallorca.
And in Monday's lone La Liga match, Real Betis hopes to avoid a third straight league defeat when it hosts Valladolid at the Benito Villamarin.