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FC Barcelona made it three out of three in a short and unusual preseason, seeing off Elche 1-0 in today’s Joan Gamper Trophy encounter with Elche.
They dominated the fellow Liga side from start to finish, but couldn’t add to the second minute opener in a game where we also got our first glimpse of Miralem Pjanić in action wearing a Barça shirt.
Koeman opted to start the game with Neto, Lenglet, Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, De Jong, Coutinho, Busquets, Ansu Fati, Griezmann and Messi.
And his team found the net with the first attack of the game. After just two minutes we were gifted a piece of pure Barça passing football, with Messi and Jordi Alba combining before Griezmann converted the cross.
Chance after chance
Elche keeper Edgar Badía was in for a busy time. Griezmann almost made it two, De Jong came close, Messi was as dangerous as ever from dead balls and a very active Coutinho was threatening to score his third goal of the preseason.
The visitors were getting a lot more ball than Tarragona and Girona did in the first two friendlies, but rarely managed to get it anywhere to worry Neto.
The restart brought more of the same. All the chances that mattered were blaugrana, but goals were not forthcoming – and Badía had a lot to do with that. The Elche goalie was simply outstanding.
Ansu Fati was particularly making his presence felt: one, two, three, four chances and yet the ball just did not want to go in.
Koeman started introducing new blood for the final half hour, and that meant all eyes on Miralem Pjanić, making his first appearance following his transfer from Juventus.
It was a strange game, because although Barça looked utterly comfortable, they still only had one goal to show for it. An Elche goal could change everything, and had Neto produced a brilliant save Diego Bri would have had it.
So, a 1-0 win and for the eighth year in a row Barça have won their own trophy – while Philippe Coutinho got to collect the MVP trophy as voted by you the website users!
Next weekend, the official fixture lists kicks in. It’s Villarreal on Sunday at 9.00pm CEST.
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