Barcelona overcame adversity last night to beat relegation-threatened Elche and spare their blushes in what proved to be quite a tense game. Ronald Koeman’s men wound up winning 2-0, but as it turns out, there’s a lot more to the story than just the scoreline.
The de Jong effect
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Frenkie de Jong has so often been regarded as one of the most intriguing players in world football today and against Elche, he proved why. He turned out to be the difference maker in this fixture with a goal and an assist to his name, reiterating why he’s so valuable to this team. He may not be the kind of catalyst that Lionel Messi is but at the age of just 23, there’s plenty of time for him to grow and keep maturing into a world class player.
Elche’s missed opportunity
Barca may have dictated the pace of the game and how things went, but Elche will forever rue the missed chance that fell to Emiliano Rigoni when he raced away and was unable to equalise for the hosts. In a relegation battle it is absolutely essential that you take any opportunities that are presented to you and for whatever reason, Rigoni couldn’t do that. Now, they have to dust themselves off and look ahead to the next game in a season that was always going to feature a pretty relentless schedule due to the complex nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Title hopes still slim?
Barcelona are priced as the third favourites to win La Liga this season at 8/1 with 888sport. While that may leave them behind Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the eyes of the bookmakers, it’s better for them as a club to be flying under the radar. It’s well known that they are in the midst of a rebuilding phase and that’s going to come with its fair share of challenges, so if they can keep it close heading into the final few games of the season, there is a strong chance they could wind up surprising everyone. Of course, that requires consistency, which is something they tend to lack – but we’ll see how things unfold.
Elche: Badia (7.5), Mojica (6), Gonzalez (5), Verdu (6), Barragan (6.5), Marcone (6), Rigoni (6), Rodriguez (6.5), Guti (6.5), Josan (6), Boye (6), Nino (6), Morente (6), Luismi (6)
Barcelona: ter Stegen (7), Mingueza (7), Araujo (7), Umtiti (7), Alba (7.5), de Jong (9), Busquets (7), Pedri (7.5), Dembele (7.5), Griezmann (6.5), Braithwaite (6.5), Puig (7), Trincao (6.5)
Referee: Valentín Pizarro Gómez
Goals: de Jong, Puig
Yellow Cards: Busquets, Griezmann
Red Cards: N/A
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