Elevendowski into double figures already
Robert Lewandowski had a rare off night against Bayern Munich in midweek but was back among the goals against Elche to continue his fine La Liga form.
The striker also helped Barca’s cause by ensuring Elche would play most of the game with 10 men.
Lewandowski latched onto a pass by Frenkie de Jong and it needed a crude rugby tackle from Gonzalo Verdu after 14 minutes to stop him running clear through on goal.
The red card duly emerged and the afternoon went downhill from then on for an Elche side who are having a dismal start to the season.
Lewandowski made it 10 for the season for Barcelona with a finish from close range and then added a second after the break with a precise low shot to take his tally to 11.
You can’t keep a good man down is the old cliché and Lewandowski showed that on Saturday. He now has eight goals in 11 matches for his new club and looks worth every single penny Barca spent to bring him to the club.
Balde is bad news for Jordi Alba
While Lewandowski was busy bagging a brace it certainly did not go unnoticed that teenage left-back Alejandro Balde finished the game with two assists.
The 18-year-old was back in the starting XI, after missing out against Bayern, and offered another reminder of his talents with a strong showing.
Balde looks like being a revelation this season for Barca and if he keeps this up he could well end up getting the left-back job on a full-time basis.
Alejandro Balde vs Elche— Football Talent Scout - Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) September 17, 2022
98% pass accuracy
2 key passes
2 big chances created
2/2 accurate crosses
1/1 accurate long ball
1/2 successful dribbles
1/3 aerials won
4/7 duels won
18 years of age. A day he will never forget! pic.twitter.com/S3DQRRsD8h
For now he has Marcos Alonso and Jordi Alba for competition but you get the feeling Alba must be getting pretty worried about his chances of minutes this season.
The 33-year-old may have been called into the latest Spain squad but is clearly third choice at Barca currently, a situation that does not look like changing any time soon.
Memphis off the mark for Barcelona
Saturday was a good afternoon for Memphis Depay too who enjoyed himself against Elche and offered a reminder of his talents.
The Dutchman got the nod in attack alongside Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele and ahead of Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati.
Memphis was fired up from the start and had caused problems well before his finely-taken goal which was supplied by Balde.
The Dutchman received the ball in the penalty area with his back to goal, turned brilliantly and then fired a rocket of a shot into the top corner.
Hold up the ball. ✅— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) September 17, 2022
Spin the defender. ✅
@Memphis #BarçaElche | #LaLigaSantander pic.twitter.com/WbMrNktS3m
There was more than just that though. The Dutchman did well for Lewandowski’s second goal, keeping the ball alive and out of Badia’s hands before the Poland international lashed home Barcelona’s third of the afternoon.
Memphis knows he’s not first choice this season but has still pledged his full commitment to the team and could well end up being a handy squad option for Xavi.
Frustration for Franck
There was plenty for Barcelona players to enjoy against Elche but one man who didn’t have the best afternoon was Franck Kessie.
The summer signing was in from the start and handed a real chance to impress. However, he picked up an early booking for a stray elbow and then had to contend with Elche players spending the rest of the first half trying to get him sent off.
Xavi was taking no risks and opted to take him off at half-time, to avoid losing him in the second half, and sent on a freshly-renewed Gavi instead.
It was a tough call by the manager and very much a missed opportunity for Kessie.
The former Milan man has made six appearances this season but isn’t enjoying the easiest of starts to life at the Camp Nou.
Top of the table
Barcelona’s win takes the team to the top of the table, temporarily at least, but the Catalans could spend the international break at the summit if Real Madrid slip against Atletico on Sunday.
Xavi’s side are starting to tick along nicely after the opening day draw to Rayo. Barca have now won five in a row in La Liga, scored 18 times and conceded just one goal.
Elche proved difficult opponents last season but Barca ran out comfortable winners on Saturday, although they were helped out by the early red card.
23 - At home, Barcelona have played 23 LaLiga games against Elche without defeat (W16 D7) - the most home games the Blaugrana have played in the top-flight without defeat. Fort. pic.twitter.com/isUHrO8Tvm— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 17, 2022
Saturday’s visitors remain without a win and sink to the bottom of the table after the defeat at the Camp Nou. Francisco’s side have taken just one point in 2022-23 so far and have scored only two goals
One of those came from Barcelona loanee Alex Collado. The midfielder was eligible to play against his parent club on Saturday but didn’t make it off the bench on what will have been a frustrating return to the Camp Nou for the 23-year-old.