FC Barcelona finally have a league win in the bag when they overcame Elche 3-2 at the Camp Nou on Saturday. It was a game of two halves, where the Catalans dominated the first half with two goals, and took their foot off the gas in the second. Elche came back in the game scoring two goals in quick succession, but a goal by substitute Nico ensured a much needed three points for Xavi.
Barcelona started with their usual young lineup, with the addition of Ferran Jutglà getting his first league start for the team. The youngster impressed against Boca Juniors, scoring a goal, and played the last five minutes against Osasuna. He led the line with Dembele and Abde on either side of him. The team yet again played a 3-4-3 formation under Xavi.
The hosts played really well right from the start, dominating possession and pressing Elche high up the pitch. The debutant Ferran Jutglà had the first chance of the game within 90 seconds, putting the ball at the back of the net with an assist from Gavi. But the goal was rightfully ruled out due to offside. His movement in the number nine position, dropping short to receive balls from midfield was very impressive. Gerra
Jutglà had another chance moments later, again a ball from Gavi but his first touch let him down and the ball went away for a goal kick. Dembele put in a corner, an inswinger finding Ferran who headed it into the net for Barcelona’s first goal on his debut. The team kept the intensity going with Gavi getting the second goal for the Catalans.
Gavi moves forward with the ball, with Ferran alongside him making a diagonal run leaving Elche defenders confused. The 17-year-old kept on advancing on Elche, and took a shot that hit the post and went in, making it 2-0 for Barcelona. It was a fantastic connection with the ball, as he kept his cool. The 41,000 fans at the Camp Nou chanted Gavi’s name.
Barcelona let Elche come back in the game in the second half with them scoring two goals in quick succession. The defence of the team was caught off guard yet again. Lenglet was left alone to protect a lot of space behind him, which allowed Tete Morente to score.There was no one on Barca’s left to defend the pass, the cross, and Pere Milla was left unmarked who put away a free header into the net.
It was very nervy from Barcelona and there was another scare of losing two points at home. Jutglà missed a great chance, but his header went wide. Abde tried his best to score from the left, but could only come close to scoring. Xavi brought on Riqui Puig and Nico Gonzales for Frenkie de Jong and Ferran late in the game.
Gavi and Dembele played a one two, with the former being very close to being offside. He picks up the ball, moves forward, and looks for Nico who took a touch before smashing the ball at the back of the net. Nico now has two goals in two games while Gavi has a goal and two assists in the same amount of time.
It was not the Barca that dominated the whote game, but are getting closer to being themselves game by game. The first half was the best 45 minutes the team has had under Xavi so far. Now, the club focuses on the Sevilla game on Tuesday.
Xavi Post Match
Xavi: “Happy? Of course he’s happy. It’s 3 gold points.”
Xavi: “I hope it is a turning point, today we made the task difficult for ourselves, although we scored 3 goals, but we have to learn in these types of matches, especially when we are winners.
Xavi: “The first goal is our fault, we have to talk about it.”
Xavi: “We were working on exploiting the spaces in the past days. If we had a striker, he would give Gavi the space, and that’s what Gutgla did, he’s good at playing this role.”
Xavi: “There are several tactical things that we have been training on, but we haven’t succeeded in implementing them yet.”
Xavi: “Having Gavi with us is a wonderful thing, we have an amazing generation of young people. I played here at the age of 18 and it was scary, but they are not afraid of anything they play with a strong character, I am happy for them.”
Xavi: “When I say that young people are the ones who make the difference, this does not mean that I am sending a message to the adults.”
Xavi: “I am happy with everyone’s position. We must return to the style of the game that we lost, which surprises me now. The future of Barca depends on it, on returning to the style.”
Xavi: “Frenkie de Jong played his role well, not like Nico and Gavi, but he made a great effort. He has been feeling uncomfortable all week.”
Xavi: “When I say that young people are the ones who make the difference, this does not mean that I am sending a message to the adults. I am happy with everyone’s position.“
Xavi: “We must return to the style of the game that we lost, which surprises me now. The future of Barca depends on it, on returning to the style.“
Xavi: “I’m amazed that over the past six years we’ve lost a lot of tactical aspects.”
Xavi: “There are a large majority of players who do not understand the positioning game, since I was 11 years old, I understood and did that, and this costs a lot, because there are players who do not work on the positioning game, this is what surprises me the most.”
Nico González: “I hope one day, the whole Camp Nou sings my name.”
Jutglà: “Happy with the win and the goal. I just want to give the team my everything. I am very happy here.”
Jutglà: “I dedicate my goal to my family and friends. To my family and the people close to meLet’s see if I can get more minutes and score more goals here. Xavi told me to do what you know.”
This was the match review Barcelona vs Elche. FC Barcelona will face Sevilla in La Liga on Tuesday and could finish fourth from seventh place by Christmas if they win. Sevilla will remain in second place irrespective of the result.