Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 victory at home to Elche on Wednesday evening, sending them third in La Liga and keeping them within five points of league leaders Atletico Madrid.
The hosts – as expected – dominated the possession stats in the first half, but never looked at their best. Francisco Trincao came closest after 20 minutes but fired straight at the keeper, while Elche had chances to score on the counter but also couldn’t convert, leaving it goalless at half-time.
A break and a change of system proved useful for La Blaugrana, who broke the deadlock two minutes into the second half through none other than Lionel Messi. Elche barely had a sniff from then on, and Barcelona doubled the lead after 68 minutes when Frenkie de Jong burst into the box and cut it back for Messi, who danced around challenges to grab his second.
Ronald Koeman’s side put the game beyond doubt five minutes later when Jordi Alba added a third in what became an increasingly comfortable performance and victory for Barcelona, despite a slow start.
Enough chatter, here are your Barcelona player ratings.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 5/10 – Aside from a save towards the end of the first half, it was a quiet night at the office for Ter Stegen.
Oscar Mingueza (RB) – 6/10 – Gave a solid account of himself and got forward well to feed Trincao ahead of him. Also worked hard out of possession to recover play for his side.
Gerard Pique (CB) – 7/10 – A more convincing outing for the veteran, who is still trying to find sharpness following a return from injury. Led the line at the back and confident as ever to bring the ball out and find a pass.
Samuel Umtiti (CB) – 6/10 – Caught flat-footed early on in the game which nearly saw Elche score if it wasn’t for poor finishing. Picked himself up well, however, and remained switched on throughout.
Jordi Alba (LB) – 6/10 – Always keen to bomb forward, but Barcelona weren’t so keen to attack Elche down the left flank. His efforts were rewarded after 73 minutes when he popped up to finish off the knock down for his side’s third.
Frenkie de Jong (CM) – 7/10 – The Dutchman enjoyed a positive game in attack, completing three dribbles and racking up a 92% pass accuracy. Slipped the ball to Messi in fine fashion to make it 2-0.
Miralem Pjanic (CM) – 4/10 – Incredibly static 45 minutes from Pjanic, who cannot find his groove in Barcelona at all. Hooked at half-time in another lacking display.
Pedri (CM) – 6/10 – Pedri came to life with a change in shape in the second half, enjoying more possession from deep and bouncing off De Jong and Messi more efficiently.
Francisco Trincao (RW) – 6/10 – Barcelona’s most positive player in a lifeless first half. Keen to drive at defenders and was successful in weaving through them, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Dropped off somewhat after the break.
Lionel Messi (ST) – 8/10 – Quiet until the start of the second half when he burst into life with an incredible run from deep, before slotting home with ease. Added a second with a seriously cheeky dink from a cut-back. Messi at his finest, turning up the heat from nowhere.
Martin Braithwaite (LW) – 7/10 – Easy to forget Braithwaite was on the pitch in the first half. Responded immediately after the break when shifted to a central position, though, providing a smart, flicked assist to Messi. Added another, much more simple assist late on in a trademark striker’s performance.
Ousmane Dembele – 6/10 – The 23-year-old stretched the pitch for his side and gave them a more consistent outlet to hit from wide areas.
Sergio Busquets – 5/10 – By the time Busquets was introduced, Barcelona had found their stride and there was little he could do to influence the game.
Antoine Griezmann – 5/10 – Could’ve had two goals within minutes of coming on, but spurned both opportunities.
Sergino Dest – N/A
Clement Lenglet – N/A