As usual, Alex Song plays Barca win. Barcelona stretched their emphatic winning record at home to 24 games with a comfortable 4-0 win against Elche at the Camp Nou. Alexis Sanhcez stole the show with a sublime hattrick with Pedro the other name on the scoresheet.
Tata Martino made 5 changes to the team that beat Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. In defense, Victor Valdes returned in goal after being out for some 47 days. Young Marc Bartra came into the side in place of Javier Mascherano, Montoya was deployed at Right back. In midfield Alex Song deputized for the suspended Sergio Busquets, while Xavi came in in place of Sergi Roberto. The front trio of Alexis-Cesc-Pedro was maintained, with Neymar having to settle for a place on the bench.
For Elche, Sapunaru and former Barca B player Lomban came in for Diamian Suarez and Pellegrin in defense, Aaron deployed in midfield for Coro.
It was quite surprising to see Elche take a traditional 4-4-2 system to the Nou Camp, unfortunately for them it backfired. Elche tried to take the game to Barca in the opening stages, but fell off unsurprisingly. They weren’t quick and hungry in their pressing which allowed Barca to control spaces in certain areas of the pitch. Another interesting point to note was Elche’s application of a high line without putting pressure on Tata’s men. The opening three goals sums up their weaknesses of their passive 4-4-2. Regarding the first goal, Xavi with acres of space and time on the ball found Alba on the left flank, whose quick cross behind Elche’s defensive line was met by Sanchez who was unopposed to score. In the second goal, Fabregas had enough time and space on the ball in midfield to spot an intelligent Pedro run before playing an inch perfect pass for him.
Iniesta found a lot of space in between the lines in the lead up to the third goal, and Elche got what they deserve. Barcelona definitely spotted the weaknesses in Elche’s system and exploited it in typical Barcelona fashion.
Elche switch to 4-5-1
With the game lost, Elche took a more cautious approach and switched to a 4-5-1.
Fabregas interesting role
In the absence of Leo Messi, Fabregas normally plays the false 9 role. However he took up a very interesting role today. With Barcelona controlling the game in midfield, Cesc as the game wore on found himself in deep positions to affect play, given Iniesta the license to make forward runs.The former Arsenal man took up an ‘interior role’ joining in from the flanks and playing deeper in midfield to control and dictate the tempo of the game alongside Xavi.The second goal came about from Cesc’s perfectly weighted ball behind Elche’s high line from the inside left channel. His influence on the game from a deeper position was stunning. He completed 45/45 passes in the middle third of the pitch as opposed to 27/35 in the final third.
With Messi, Neymar and Busquets not included in the XI, Alexis and Pedro again stepped up to the fore. Positive signs were there for all Cules. Tata’s team were very tactically spot on. Pressed well, attacked the weaknesses in Elche’s system and added versicallity and thrust to their game. Next week’s clash vs Atleti promises to be a good one for football purists.