Alexis celebrating the second of his three goals against Elche / PHOTO: GERMÁN PARGA-FCB

FC Barcelona kicked off 2014 like they ended 2013, by thrashing the opposition. This time, though, they didn’t need a comeback like the Getafe game. The Elche match went Barça’s way from the first 15 minutes, thanks to goals from Alexis and Pedro, and Elche were finished off with two more goals from Alexis in the second half.  Alexis Sánchez, in the role of one of the three Kings, and with his Chilean roots could have almost come from the East, brought early King’s Day presents.

With this win, FC Barcelona responded to Atlético Madrid’s win at Màlaga (0-1) and stay at the top of La Liga at least for one more week. With both teams on 49 points, Barça have a 5 goal advantage over Atlético, whom they will visit next Saturday in a match that could be really decisive.

Via Route 1

First, however, Barça had to beat Elche, and they went to work quickly, almost putting the game beyond doubt in the first quarter of an hour. A great cross from the left by Alba set up Alexis for the first goal in the 7th minute, and in minute 15, a brilliant Cesc through-ball found Pedro, who rounded Toño to score the second goal. In between the two goals, Elche had practically their only chance, a shot from Boakye that crashed against the right post of Valdes’s goal.

A Monologue

The 2-0 was like a bucket of cold water thrown on the visitors, who came to the Camp Nou with the intention of playing football against Barça. It didn’t quite work out for them. The intense pressure by Barça when Elche tried to play the ball from the back, together with Song’s good work in midfield and the mobility of the forwards, helped Barça to control the match. Pedro, Iniesta and Xavi, from a free-kick inside the area following a pass-back to Toño by Botía, could have all made it three before the break.

Missed penalty

The Barça monologue continued after the break. Right at the start Pedro won a penalty, being fouled by Sapunaru ... which Xavi put the wrong side of the post. A short time later, Xavi received a standing ovation when he was substituted, but before he went off Barça scored a third goal. The goal game from an Iniesta pass which totally split the Elche defence, and Pedro only had to cross the ball to Alexis, on his own at the far post.

Alexis explodes

It wasn’t to be an inspired Alexis’s last goal of the game. A fabulous free-kick – for a foul by Botía on himself - from outside the area made it 4-0 and completed Alexis’s first hat-trick for Barça. The Camp Nou paid homage to Alexis, the Barçá superstar against Elche. Sergi Roberto, Tello, and Neymar Jr got some time on the pitch in the second half, and this match was the perfect present before the arrival of the Three Kings and the imminent visit to the Vicente Calderon