Barcelona's players may have boarded their flight to Japan with a sense of disappointment having let a two-goal lead slip at home to Deportivo La Coruna.
Goals from Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic gave the Catalan giants a 2-0 lead over Depor, but the visitors hit back in the final 15 minutes thanks to Lucas Perez and Alex Bergantinos.
And the Blaugrana's stars may have been forgiven for thinking they were surrendering two points in the title race to their fiercest rivals.
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However, according to Spanish daily, Marca, Messi and Co. were given a welcome boost after their pilot announced the result of Real's game with Villarreal over the tannoy at 6.20 a.m, local time.
And they responded in absolute delight at the news Rafa Benitez's charges had fallen to a 1-0 defeat at the Estadio El Madrigal.
The result means Barcelona opened the gap over Los Blancos to five points, although Atletico Madrid are level with them at the summit.
However, it still seems to be an opportunity missed for the defending champions who were stunned by a plucky Depor, having taken their foot off the gas.
Barca could find themselves knocked off top spot when they return from Club World Cup duty as Atletico travel to Malaga on 20 December.
However, the competition offers the chance for the Camp Nou outfit to open their trophy haul for the season and set themselves on the path to a historic quadruple.
They face Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande in the semi-final before a possible final against either Sanfrecce Hiroshima from the host nation or Argentina's River Plate.
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