Barcelona‘s shock Supercopa de Espana defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao rattled the club to its core. They bounced back to beat UE Cornella in the Copa del Rey. They didn’t do it with style and grace, but they got the job done with a good measure of tenacity and grit.
They were back in La Liga action this afternoon, locking horns with Elche at the Martinez Valero. It’s the seventh game in a row Barcelona have played away from home, but despite this they were still on the hunt for their fourth consecutive victory.
Ronald Koeman, speaking post-game in comments carried by Marca, was pleased to keep their good run of form going. “Very happy with how we have won,” he said. “We’ve had many games in the last few days and we’ve been very focused.
“We were superior to the opposition, we were patient, we stole balls. It was difficult to score because they had a lot of people behind the ball, but we pressed well.
“They had only one chance and it was because of a big defensive mistake, but [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen was very good in the one-on-one. We’re lucky to have a great goalkeeper, because they could have equalised. The best thing about today was our pressing and our play without the ball. We’re just winners.”
Barcelona dominated the opening exchanges without providing much of a cutting edge, but they got their reward six minutes before the break. Martin Braithwaite played the ball from the left for Diego Gonzalez to accidentally direct it goal-wards, with Frenkie de Jong on hand to ensure it crossed the line.
De Jong was pivotal in Barcelona’s second, too, driving through the Elche defence, pulling right and then putting the ball on a plate for second-half substitute Riqui Puig, who made no mistake with a smart header to put the final nail in Elche’s coffin.