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Elche 0-2 Barcelona: Match Summary

Alexandre Patanian

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Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

First-half

As a winless Elche faced a dampened Barcelona, Culés wanted to see a better level from their players. Lionel Messi was still suspended, so Martin Braithwaite replaced him.

After a soporific first half against Athletic in the Super Cup final, Barcelona started their game in the same way. The only dangerous chances came from Ousmane Dembélé from crosses and dribbles that amounted to nothing. In the end, Antoine Griezmann thought he found the back of the net as he connected with a Braithwaite cross. Frenkie de Jong stole the spotlight and got his side in front. Barcelona were winning, but not convincingly.

Ronald Koeman’s men can be happy with their defensive showing. However, the attack felt nonexistent at times as Dembélé was the only one dropping deep to get the ball.

Second-half

Barça got the second half underway. The same players faced each other in a half with little to no chances.

A few opportunities were worth mentioning, and they were separated by seconds. Oscar Mingueza, playing as a makeshift right-back, slipped and gave away the ball to Emiliano Rigoni. The Argentine attacker faced Marc-André Ter Stegen, who was too good for him and parried the shot. Barcelona then went up the field, and Dembélé’s effort found Edgar Badía’s hands. Other than that, both teams created half-chances.

Francisco Trincão replaced Dembélé and was lively. The Portuguese winger’s two shots should have gone in. However, Badía wanted to keep the score at a respectable margin and saved both attempts. Another lively entry was Riqui Puig’s. The youngster got the first goal of his Barcelona career thanks to de Jong. The Dutchman cut through the Elche defence and Puig lept higher than everyone to double the lead.

All in all, Barça controlled the game and beat Elche in their seventh away game in a row. The players looked tired, and they at least got back to Barcelona with the three points.

As a Lebanese teenager who never had the chance to support their local team, I fell in love with the club that was FC Barcelona at the start of the decade. I always was passionate about writing and this is exactly what I am looking for: sharing my insights and opinions on football.

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Match Reviews

Barcelona player ratings vs Sevilla — Hosts unable to get past Mingueza, the wall

Shahraiz Sajjad

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Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

Turning headless chickens into mature students of the game turned out to be Ronald Koeman’s biggest achievement at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where the Catalan giants had recently just suffered a disappointing loss. On the score-sheet, the margin may not have looked considerable, but on the field, Barcelona were pretty much untouchable, courtesy in large parts to the structural change made by Koeman.

A performance this cohesive and harmonized was much needed after the countless defeats Barça have suffered on the big stage. Everything Cules have strived to see in this team, was present, and while consistency has been the club’s biggest hurdle, this win undoubtedly holds a great deal of significance.

The Blaugranas have arguably exerted more energy in other games over the course of the campaign, but the spirit Barcelona lacked suddenly came to life. The pressing was in sync, every move was calculated and well crafted. Playing the Barcelona way in hostile territory against a team as dominant as Sevilla brought back life into a team devoid of wins in high magnitude encounters.

Marc-André Ter Stegen: 7

Ter Stegen oozed confidence as he came off his line and claimed the ball several times. Not only did he display composure, but the German rushed out of his box on one occasion to clear the ball and remove any danger that Sevilla’s potential attack possessed. With the exception of a poor pass, his distribution was immaculate. Even so, it must be admitted that the Sevilla forwards barely tested ter Stegen in goal with dangerous attempts on target.

Oscar Mingueza: 8.5

Arguably the man of the match yesterday. (Photo via Imago)

Oscar Mingueza was a vital reason as to why the Blaugrana defence was impenetrable. Piementa’s prodigy did not allow Lopetegui’s men to advance into any areas on the right side of the field. He won 6 out his 9 duels along winning 5 tackles, proving the 21-year-old’s precise ball-winning abilities remain crucial. Not to mention, his exceptional ball-playing ability enabled Barça to play with a high line thus applying further pressure on Sevilla.

Pique: 7.5

Pique was the nail in the coffin to Barça’s counter-pressing strategies. The players would press the Sevilla Keeper and force him to heave the ball away, and this is where Pique’s aerial ability flourished, which particularly authorized the Catalans to regain possession. The Spanish veteran won 5 out of 7 of his aerial duels, thus showing his dominance in that area of play. His distribution was reliable as always and allowed the Catalans to retain a high defensive line at selected times.

Lenglet: 8

The Frenchman is on route to recovering the form he once had, and this performance should do his confidence a world of good. Still prone to making errors, he dealt with Sevilla’s threat in a respectable manner. An improvement was observed in his ability to stay ahead of his man, which led to his positioning being marginally better. His second-half performance was key to the win as he stepped up after Pique and Ronald Araujo had to be subbed off. Lenglet must be appreciated for his tackling as they successfully neutralized a few well-structured attacks from the hosts.

Sergiño Dest: 7

Despite typically being perceived as a full-back, Ronald Koeman handed Dest the responsibility to play higher up the field as a right-wing-back. The American speedster enjoyed his new role with piercing runs behind Sevilla’s defence and looked a lot more explosive, with defensive cover behind him.

Dest launched a couple of promising crosses, but a major issue was that he shied away from entering 1v1 duels and instinctively looked to send in crosses. The US international also came oh-so-close to scoring after striking the post on one occasion.

Jordi Alba: 7.5

Similar to his wing-back partner in crime, Jordi Alba raided forward at any given opportunity, stretching the play wide and utilizing his raw pace throughout. Without having to worry about his defensive duties, the marauding Spaniard looked a lot more imposing. He was just inches away from tapping the ball into the opposition net after proceedings.

Frenkie de Jong: 8.5

On any other day, that’s a goal and assist for de Jong. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

De Jong’s season just proceeds to take massive leaps as the Dutchman proved to be a defining factor in the Catalans’ applaudable 2-0 victory. In spite of not stamping his name on the score-sheet, De Jong’s performance was worthy of endless praise, almost making it seem as if he was carrying around an extra pair of lungs. The former Ajax wonderboy surged forward, breaking the opposition’s lines tirelessly and constantly squirming his way out of tight areas.

Sergio Busquets: 7.5

The ageing veteran appeared to be recreating glimpses from the past as his counter-pressing was absolutely decisive in the Catalans’ attacking plays. Sergio Busquets – unlike most big game he has participated in – was not cheaply bullied off the ball and made possession purposeful for the Blaugranas. With defensive aid behind him, Busquets was back to his brilliant best.

Pedri: 7

The cog in Ronald Koeman’s midfield was once again a trusty figure in midfield and managed to string together some impressive plays in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation. Though Pedri’s involvement was substantially lower than usual, his display was mainly impeded by an injury he suffered in the 71st minute, disabling him from completing the full 90 minutes.

Lionel Messi: 8.5

Running rounds at the Pizjuan. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images)

Against his favourite opposition, Lionel Messi savoured the occasion to the fullest. The Argentine was an influential figure in the club’s victory away from home, with his creativity and efficiency in front of goal second to none. In the 29th minute of the game, Leo spotted a raiding Ousmane Dembélé through on goal as he bagged himself an assist for the Frenchman’s finish.

To cap off his outing, Barcelona’s captain weaved his way past a couple of Sevilla defenders and, after failing to chip the keeper, delicately slotted it into the net.

Ousmane Dembélé: 8

Sevilla were haplessly left chasing Ousmane Dembélé’s shadows. The Frenchman – without having to worry about his defensive tasks – waltzed forward continuously and enjoyed playing as a secondary striker, making runs in behind the defence and eventually proving his worth with a beautifully placed goal just before the half-hour mark. A much more mature and composed exhibition from the electric winger.

Substitutes

Ilaix Moriba: 7

Ronald Araujo: N/A

Martin Braithwaite: N/A

Samuel Umtiti: N/A

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