A Perfect Record: FC Barcelona Versus Elche Result, Goal Clips, Highlights And What We Learned
At the Camp Nou on Saturday, FC Barcelona faced Elche in the Joan Gamper Trophy.
Here’s the result, what happened, and what we learned from the fixture.
Ansu Fati returned to the starting lineup
Manning the left wing in the new 4-2-3-1, the 17-year-old was joined by Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho in a trio as Lionel Messi was the false ‘9’ up front.
Your double pivots? Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets, with Riqui Puig this afternoon told by Ronald Koeman that he does not feature in his plans for 2020/2021 much to the chagrin of Culers worldwide.
Straight out of the tracks
Jordi Alba latching on to a delightful ball from Messi, which broke two lines of pressure from the heart of midfield, Griezmann made no mistake converting an easy tap in to make it 1-0 to the hosts after just two minutes.
Messi came close with a free kick
The captain on target just past the 20 minute mark, Edgar Badia did well to keep his effort out with a diving save.
After the goal, Elche mostly failed to get out of their half save for a dangerous low cross Gerard Pique had to intercept, and the Catalans’ lead hadn’t felt threatened.
Barça’s final ball was poor
Meaning they labored to get into the box in an attempt to double their lead. Many passes failed to find their intended target, or were blocked by alert Elche men.
Ansu Fati started coming into his own
Taking things up a gear, the recently-capped Spain international embarked on a couple of dangerous runs with 30 minutes down which although fruitless, suggested he was starting to find his feet.
Coutinho was a highlight of the first half’s closing stages
Always dangerous, the Little Magician weaved around markers in the box and came close to providing an assist for Griezmann just before the whistle.
1-0 after 45.
No changes from Koeman after the interval
But with this being Barça’s last fixture before their La Liga campaign gets underway, some were eventually expected including a first look at Miralem Pjanic.
Fati could have done better, and there is no way back for Nelson Semedo with Roberto playing like this
Barça’s main threat consistently coming down the right flank, the number 20 knocked in a pinpoint cross that Fati should have headed home.
Panic when Messi went down
Charging through on goal, millions worldwide winced when the Ballon d’Or holder collapsed on the floor after an opponent’s studs stabbed at his ankle. Thankfully, he was back to his usual self within a couple of minutes.
Koeman ultimately made a string of switches
With an hour gone, Pjanic made his FC Barcelona debut replacing Busquets, while Francisco Trincao supplanted goalscorer Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele ended Fati’s evening.
Then came Pedri
Meaning Philippe Coutinho was hooked after a strong showing with 11 to spare. Almost setting up Trincao immediately after the Portuguese was introduced, the Brazilian could make a big contribution in the upcoming term and deservedly won the Man of the Match award.
Neto to the rescue
Sparing blushes, when a series of Barça players failed to clear out a cross, Coutinho’s compatriot came to the rescue with a fantastic save from close quarters that denied a certain Diego Bri equaliser.
3-0 to Koeman
And on to Villarreal on September 27 we go. There have been positives to take from what we’ve seen of the Dream Team legend’s side thus far - in particular the integration of new arrivals Pedri and Trincao, plus the return of Coutinho - but now come the real litmus tests.
Moving forward, it would appear that the Dutchman needs to make a decision between Fati and Dembele on the left flank and also deal with unhappy stars such as Puig and Luis Suarez who the club might fail to offload before the October 5 transfer deadline.