Barcelona brushed aside their midweek disappointment with a convincing 3-0 win over ten-man Elche, with Robert Lewandowski among the scorers.
Earlier in the week, Robert Lewandowski was the man in focus when he quickly returned to Bayern Munich with Barcelona. The Catalan giants were beaten in that contest, which was their first loss. The Polish forward made amends as his goals took Xavi’s side to the top of La Liga ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Atletico Madrid.
Elche’s game plan was shattered due to the red card received by captain Gonzalo Verdu around the 14th-minute mark, as their defensive system could not contain Barcelona afterward. Surprisingly, it would take another 20 minutes after the early dismissal for the first goal to arrive.
Pedri’s immense work on the ball saw him slide a pass to Alejandro Balde. The young full-back set up Memphis Depay, who made a hash of the opportunity, although Lewandowski was in the right place to bundle home the opener. Depay found joy later on as Balde was able to find the Dutchman once more inside the box.
This time, despite being under tremendous pressure, the Dutch attacker twisted and blasted his shot on the roof of the net to double Barcelona’s advantage. Before the whistle blew at the break, the Catalans saw Pedri’s strike get disallowed for offside.
🛌 Sleep well, Barça fans… 💙❤️ pic.twitter.com/EGhziHasyx
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) September 17, 2022
Depay combined with Lewandowski right after half-time, as the Polish forward got his brace. The Dutchman made a nuisance of himself, and his efforts led to a loose ball falling to Lewandowski rather gratefully, with Barcelona’s star striker duly obliging by sweeping home his second of the match.
Barcelona immediately changed tactics and ensured they slowed the game down. They did not have to do much as Elche were no match for the home side. The hosts could see a comfortable victory in the end and jump to the top of La Liga, with Real Madrid only playing on Sunday night.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
Unlike the midweek clash, ter Stegen had barely anything to do after Elche’s early red card. He even ventured out of his area with the ball, which showcased the lack of activity inside his penalty box.
Jules Kounde: 6/10
A much better performance from Kounde after some sloppiness showed in midweek. While he was not involved in any goals, the Frenchman often supported the attacking third by creating space for Ousmane Dembele to attack the ball.
Ronald Araujo: 7/10
Araujo had total control of the game at the back, and the defender could dictate terms rather comfortably. After the early sending-off, Barcelona barely had any defending to do, with Araujo often ensuring the high line was maintained, and he contributed to progressing the ball well from the back.
Eric Garcia: 6.5/10
Garcia was alert to potentially dangerous moments, as his aggressive actions were enough to sniff out any attempts from Elche’s attackers. Otherwise, he, too, had a comfortable day on the pitch and supported Araujo in maintaining the high line.
Alejandro Balde: 8.5/10
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) September 17, 2022
Barcelona have surely stumbled upon another top young star in Balde. The left-back was instrumental in creating the opening two goals, as he got two assists during the first half.
Franck Kessie: 4/10
Kessie continued to struggle in Barcelona colours after a disappointing outing. The Ivorian midfielder may be learning the ropes of the game at Camp Nou and often made clumsy attempts to get inside the box rather desperately. Xavi may have had enough and substituted him at half-time.
Frenkie de Jong: 6.5/10
Frenkie de Jong was instrumental in starting Barcelona attacks, as most of the plays went through him. The Dutchman is still reeling from a high-pressure summer, and games like these are signs he may be inching closer to his best.
Pedri vs Elche:
• 106 touches
• 92 accurate passes (96%)
• 5 key passes
• 15/16 successful long balls
• 7 ball recoveries
• 2 interceptions
Another casual masterclass by the golden boy. All the potential in the world to one day be considered as a football phenom. pic.twitter.com/rUootjrGwc
— The Red Fury ™ (@SpainSystem) September 17, 2022
Pedri was sensational and had the idea to dictate play in the attacking third. With Elche deciding to sit behind, the youngster was potent enough to open up the defence and was instrumental in the opening goal.
Ousmane Dembele: 7.5/10
Dembele was a constant headache for Elche left-back Carlos Clerc, as the Frenchman ran riot in his usual position on the right wing. His cross forced the third goal, and the winger seemed to be back to his best.
Robert Lewandowski: 8.5/10
Clinical should be the word to describe Lewandowski after securing two more goals to his name. The strikes may have been mere formalities for the Polish forward, but his presence in the right place makes all the difference.
Pichichi 😉 pic.twitter.com/FjheqffFYj
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) September 17, 2022
Memphis Depay: 8/10
After struggling for relevance since the start of the season, Depay might have turned a corner after a good display to prove a point to Xavi. The Dutchman was involved in all three of Barcelona’s goals, and he finished the night with a goal and an assist.
Gavi replaced the ineffective Kessie and immediately brought a different energy to the pitch.
Ansu Fati: 5/10
It was surprising to see Xavi take off Depay so early in the second half and replace him with Fati. The idea might have been to give the youngster an extended run-in, but he failed to take his opportunity.
Hector Bellerin: 5/10
Similarly, Bellerin was sent to understand the team dynamics better, as he slotted in at right-back, allowing Kounde to move centrally.
Raphinha replaced the electric Dembele and continued to threaten Elche’s defence from the right side.
Ferran Torres: N/A
Despite playing more than 18 minutes, Torres came at a time when Barcelona controlled the game rather than looking to score more. Unfortunately for him, those minutes proved irrelevant to make a necessary impact.