Barcelona have gone 15 points clear at the top of the table for at least one day and are one step closer to the La Liga title thanks to a dominant 4-0 victory away to bottom of the table Elche on Saturday night. A shorthanded Barça missing five starters were never in trouble against the worst team in the league, created plenty of chances and scored some very good goals to win easily and continue their hunt for the trophy.
Xavi Hernández surprised with Eric García in the base of midfield, confident that even a shorthanded side would be able to find spaces inside the Elche defense without much issue.
And that’s exactly how it played out: Barça barely had to work to pass their way through the lines and create some very good chances, but the Elche defense did a good job of making last-ditch tackles and clearances to get out of trouble.
But their clean sheet only lasted 20 minutes: Jordi Alba sent a free-kick into the box, Ronald Araujo won the first header, and Robert Lewandowski found the back of the net to give his team the lead.
The Blaugrana continued to create chances towards the end of the half and could have easily made it 3-0, but Lewandowski and Jules Kounde each missed a golden opportunity and the Catalans couldn’t increase their cushion before the halftime whistle.
At the break Barça were the better team and the clear favorites to get the win, but they needed to remain serious and finish their chances to clinch the three points in the second half.
Elche started the final period trying to go forward and search for an equalizer but were very poor in their attacking efforts, leaving even more space in behind for Barça to pounce on the counter-attack. And that’s how the Blaugrana sealed the deal and turned the win into a rout.
Within a span of 15 minutes, Barça turned up the heat and scored three times to end Elche’s night. They made it 2-0 with a powerful finish and a very important goal for Ansu Fati, and Lewandowski got his second of the night after Kounde won the ball high up the pitch and Gavi assisted the Polish striker to make it 3-0. The fourth goal arrived shortly after on another counter-attack, with Ferran Torres joining the scoring party with an excellent left-footed finish.
The final minutes had very little action but a few valuable minutes for the youngsters, including under-19 star midfielder Aleix Garrido who made his debut in the final 10 minutes. Barça simply ran the clock out, and the final whistle came to confirm the victory.
This was an impressive win considering all the missing pieces and the fact Barça usually struggle after the international break, but they played good attacking football all night and scored their chances in the second half. Well done, boys!
Elche: Badía; Palacios, Bigas, Mascarell, Clerc, Blanco (Fernández 65’); Morente (Josan 65’), Carmona (Guti 54’), Gumbau, Fidel; Milla (Ponce 76’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo (Torre 77’), Alonso, Alba; Gavi (Kessie 68’), Eric, Roberto; Ferran, Lewandowski, Fati (Garrido 84’)
Goals: Lewandowski (20’, 66’), Fati (56’), Ferran (70’)