Piqué, Bravo, rotations, dead ball strategy and the Messi Neymar partnership were key to the big win against Elche
11:00PM Friday 23 Jan
Bravo: The Chilean keeper has now conceded just 9 goals in 20 league games this season and his early saves from Faisal - with one particularly fine stop on 24 minutes - set the foundations for the avalanche of goals later on. After Ter Stegen’s excellent performance in midweek, Bravo again showed that the keepers’ gloves at Barça are in -and on- good hands.
Strength in depth: Luis Enrique has always defended the need to give all the squad players time on the pitch and against Elche he made 6 changes from the midweek Cup win with Bravo, Montoya, Bartra, Xavi, Rafinha and Pedro all coming in.
Dead ball tactics: Barça are used to playing teams who baton down the hatches and defend en masse and after conceding 9 goals in the two Cup games this month, Elche went into the game with an ultra-defensive line up. Dead ball strategies can often pick the defensive lock and in the first half, Jordi Alba shot over from a free kick, then Messi went inches wide with another and finally, Xavi set up Piqué to open the scoring.
Piqué: After his excellent performance against Atlético Madrid on Wednesday, Gerard Piqué was again a dominant figure, marshalling the defence and snuffing out any danger, as well as bagging his third league goal of the season.
Messi-Neymar: With 4 of the five second half goals, it’s clear what a force the Messi-Neymar partnership is growing into. Neymar was fouled for Messi’s penalty, then the Argentinean set up both Neymar’s goals before adding the fifth himself to make it 35 league goals from the pair so far this campaign.