Elche – Barcelona: Barcelona Labor To Victory (0-2)
Coming into this fixture on a strong run of form, Ronald Koeman would have hoped his outfit could dispatch strugglers Elche. However, Barcelona found their hosts' 4-5-1 defensive shape tough to crack, relying on a late goal from the prodigal son of the squad to seal the three points.
Tactical analysis and match report by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.
Thus far, Elche have endured a tough campaign. Without a win since the end of October, the hosts have gradually slipped down the league standings. Now lying in eighteenth place, they hoped to bag a result to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.
Barcelona seem to be hitting their stride after a slow start to the year. Undefeated in their last eight league games, the away team came into this game fourth in the table. They now hoped to win a fourth game on the bounce in their bid to consolidate their Champions League status ahead of next season.
Elche manager Jorge Almirón deployed a 4-5-1 shape, moving away from the 5-4-1 setup that he used against Real Valladolid in their last fixture. The manager also made three changes to the starting eleven from that game that included the return of Iván Marcone to the fold in midfield.
Ronald Koeman went for a 4-3-3 system. Given Lionel Messi’s suspension after the Supercup final, Martin Braithwaite took his place in the front three. Elsewhere, there was one further change to the side that thrashed Granada 4-0 in their last league game. Óscar Mingueza slid over to right back, playing ahead of Sergiño Dest, leaving Ronald Araújo to join Samuel Umtiti at the heart of defense.
Barcelona struggle . . .