Barcelona vs Elche provided the much-needed opportunity to wash away the shame from the weekend with new three points ready to be earned. Elche entered the game in a tough spot being 19th in the standings and looking to put a run of results together. Following the points dropped against Cadiz, an amazing chance at the league as a result of Atletico’s losses, Barcelona simply had to assert themselves in this game to keep hopes alive.
Barcelona vs Elche – the starting line-up
Sergio Busquets, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann were on the bench, while Clement Lenglet struggles to establish himself as a starter and the rotation in the defence will continue, it seems.
Messi led the line with help from Braithwaite and Trincao from the wings. The young Portuguese getting the start following displays of improved confidence and also his tactical versatility is something the Cules will expect to see more of.
First-half and more of the same
The game started with the usual patience from Barcelona on the ball, but unfortunately, that led to nothing in the final third. The tempo was once again pedestrian and most of the opportunities in the first-half came from Leo Messi.
He found Trincao on the wing and the Portuguese with a brilliant piece of skill dribbled past two defenders and had the best opportunity of the night. An exceptional piece of play that culminated in an awful finish. Elche also created a promising opportunity that came from a mistake by Pique. Either way, the only real threat from the visitors once again came from a malfunction in Barcelona. Pique lost the ball and Barcelona had to defend facing their own goal.
Fair to say that almost everybody watching Barcelona this season will assume there is a clear goal chance at the end of that attack. And indeed, there was a clear chance. The shot was poor and didn’t force Ter Stegen to make a safe.
Second-half and Leo Messi
In the second half, the situation did not change significantly. Messi was responsible for everything in the final third and the rest of the team just tried to find their place around the pitch. Two of the three goals are coming from the same action. Here he doesn’t have a clear option of a pass, so he decides to take it upon himself. Dribbles past two players, plays a one-two with Braithwaite, and Barcelona took the lead.
The second goal came from another individual run with the ball from De jong. Exceptional determination and desire to go further with the ball in his feet allowed Messi to operate in the pocket of space in front of the penalty area. 2:0 for Barcelona.
And the time for the signature pass towards the wing came along in the 73rd minute. A great ball from Leo to Braithwaite, who just cushioned the ball towards Jordi Alba and the latter blasted the ball into the net for the third goal of the match.
Once again the performance left a lot to be desired, the movement was stagnant, the creativity was missing. Regardless, the individual quality proved too much for Elche and the Catalans managed to secure three points for their total. With games coming thick and fast in the next few weeks that win can serve as a confidence boost and hopefully see the team unite around the idea of a successful end of the season. Confidence is essential if Barcelona aim at achieving any silverware, as a sign that this club doesn’t put their heads down even in the darkest of times.