Elche 0-4 FC Barcelona: Full steam ahead

Elche 0-4 FC Barcelona: Full steam ahead

Goals from Lewandowski (2), Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres move the Catalans three points closer to the Liga title

There was no Sergio Busquets, no Pedri, no Frenkie de Jong, no Ousmane Dembélé, no Andreas Chistensen… But the Barça machine looked as polished as ever as Elche were swept aside by a team that has moved three points closer to mathematical confirmation of the Liga 2022/23 title.

There were goals. And there were goals for players who really needed them. And there was yet another clean sheet to keep alive some potentially record-breaking defensive stats. And there was also a debut, with the much talked-about 19-year-old Aleix Garrido joining the midfield for the final minutes.

But he wasn't the only new face in the Barça midfield. Xavi admitted after the game that it was Jordi Cruyff's idea. And Eric García proved extremely effective in an unusual position...

Lewandowski opener

Of course, on paper this was a game that had away win written all over it. While Barça were leading La Liga by 12 points, Elche were the same margin plus one adrift at the bottom of the table.

But with the home side playing under a brand new manager, the goals took longer to come than the pre-game stats might have suggested. Although the Catalans were the vastly more dominant side, for the best part of an hour they only had one goal to show for it.

Robert Lewandowski added to his Pichichi-leading tally by using a combination of fortune and skill to tuck home a nodded assist from Ronald Araujo.

But the Pole will feel he should have made it two when he headed over from close range, and Jules Kounde also came annoyingly close to doubling the lead, but his terrific chance was blocked on the line.

Here come the goals

A two-goal cushion was desperately needed to dispel the threat of nasty surprises, and it finally came from the feet of Ansu Fati. Having run the ball all the way from his own half, the 20-year-old’s delectable finish was a delight to behold. It was his first goal in 14 appearances. Exactly what the doctor ordered to give his confidence a bit of a boost.

On 66 minutes it was three. An error in the Elche defence, Gavi robbed the ball, Lewandowski finished off the job. Game over.

Three minutes later and we could start talking about a rout. The way Ferran Torres controlled the ball on the edge of the area was exquisite. His left foot followed that by striking the perfect swerve into the bottom left corner.

All in all, a thoroughly refreshing performance from a team that is now 15 points clear at the top of the table, pending what Real Madrid do tomorrow at home to Valladolid (4.15pm CET).

Força Barça
Força Barça

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