FC Barcelona (2nd, 13pts) vs Elche CF (20th, 1pt)
Competition/Round: 2022-23 La Liga, Matchday 6
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Sergi Roberto (out)
Elche Outs & Doubts: Diego González, Enzo Roco, Ezequiel Ponce, Gonzalo Verdú, Omar Mascarell, Roger (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 4.15pm CET (Barcelona), 3.15pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 10.15am ET, 7.15am PT (USA), 7.45pm IST (India)
Venue: Spotify Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Alejandro Muñiz Ruiz
VAR: José Luis González González
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA, Canada, UK, Spain), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), others
Following a painful defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in midweek to end their unbeaten start to the season, Barcelona return to La Liga action on Saturday afternoon when they meet Elche at the Greatest Stadium on Earth.
The Blaugrana played very well in Germany and deserved a lot more from the game, but weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal and paid for their only two defensive mistakes of the match against a Bayern team that, as Xavi Hernández said, doesn’t forgive.
Barça have learned a valuable lesson from Tuesday’s loss when it comes to competing against the very best teams in the continent, but the level of play between the boxes is excellent and there is a clear evolution in the team’s plan and execution following Xavi’s first preseason in charge.
But it all comes down to putting the ball in the back of the net, and Barça have done plenty of that during their near perfect start to the La Liga campaign. The Blaugrana will look to return to winning ways and continue their excellent form in domestic competition this weekend, and they are huge favorites against an Elche side that’s struggled heavily this season.
Saturday’s visitors have scored just two goals and conceded 13 in the opening five games, with a defense that looks even worse than the numbers which are already terrible. They are not a “park the bus” team and the previous games suggest that they won’t be afraid to fight for possession and send bodies forward, even against Barça.
If Elche do indeed decide to attack and not put the entire team behind the ball, it might be a very good opportunity for Barça to create plenty of chances and score plenty of goals to excite the home crowd and rebound quickly from the Bayern loss.
Whatever happens in Europe will happen, but winning La Liga is still the priority this season. And a team that wins La Liga dominates these kinds of matches at home. Plain and simple. Elche deserve respect, but they’re not very good right now and Barça should pounce to restore the good vibes.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Eric, Balde; Gavi, De Jong, Pedri; Dembélé, Lewandowski, Fati
Elche (3-5-2): Badia; Nwankwo, Fernández, Bigas; Josan, Guti, Gumbau, Collado, Fernández; Chaves, Boyé
It’s hard to know how the loss in Munich will affect the team’s morale, but the difference between the two teams is massive and it’s hard to see Barça not winning this one in pretty comfortable fashion: 4-0 to the good guys.