Ansu Fati brushes off difficult week as Barcelona beat Elche


Robert Lewandowski scored twice and Ansu Fati netted his first league aim since October as Barcelona beat Elche 4-0 on the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on Saturday.

Ferran Torres added the fourth aim as Barca prolonged their lead on the high of LaLiga to fifteen factors, with second-placed Real Madrid as a consequence of host Real Valladolid on Sunday.

With simply 11 video games to go, Barca are transferring more and more nearer to a primary league title since 2019, whereas Elche, 13 factors adrift on the backside, want a miracle to keep away from relegation to the second division.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, extra (U.S.)

Rapid response

1. Ansu wanted a aim at finish of difficult week

The most vital aim of Barca’s 4 was the one scored by Ansu. He has dominated media protection in Catalonia this week after his dad, Bori, gave an interview through which he stated he thought he ought to go away Barca looking for extra minutes. Bori was talking as a father. He stated he understood the competitors for locations was fierce and that Xavi Hernandez had guided Barca to a commanding lead on the high of the desk, however he identified his son was the one chosen to inherit Lionel Messi’s No. 10 shirt.

Against Elche, with Ousmane Dembele injured and Raphinha suspended, Ansu got here into the aspect. Despite Bori’s qualms, the numbers haven’t lied lately. The Spain ahead was and not using a league aim since October and and not using a aim in any competitors since January — a run spanning 12 video games. That didn’t seem like altering within the first half.

However, Ansu, nonetheless solely 20, took his second within the second half, selecting up the ball on the midway line and being allowed to run in direction of the field, the place he produced an excellent end into the underside nook. It’s the form of aim which Barca, Ansu and Bori will all assist can change the teen’s fortunes and earn him extra minutes within the coming months.

Ansu’s aim was sandwiched by two Lewandowski strikes. The Polish striker has not been in pink scorching kind lately however now has 17 objectives in LaLiga — a league excessive — and, like Ansu, his confidence must be boosted forward of Wednesday’s Clasico in opposition to Real Madrid within the semifinal of the Copa del Rey (stream the match on ESPN+, 3 p.m. ET).

2. Xavi tinkers with lineup forward of Copa Clasico

On the again of the worldwide break, and with Real Madrid to return on Wednesday, Barcelona made 5 modifications to the crew which received the LaLiga Clasico on the finish of March. Most curiously, Eric Garcia, a centre-back, was used as a defensive midfielder. He did properly however greater checks will come if he’s to transition to this place completely.

Further ahead, Ferran got here in on the fitting wing and in addition handed the check. One high-quality cross on the finish of the primary half deserved a aim — Lewandowski couldn’t convert — and he took his personal aim rather well within the second interval. Later on, there was a debut for 19-year-old midfielder Aleix Garrido.

Xavi’s modifications had been primarily influenced by accidents. Dembele, Frenkie de Jong, Andreas Christensen had been all lacking with knocks. De Jong could possibly be again to face Madrid; the opposite three are unlikely to function. Raphinha will return from suspension, although, whereas Sergio Busquets and Alejandro Balde will profit from a relaxation right here.

3. Elche’s sixth coach this season however similar outcome

Sebastian Beccacece sat within the Elche dugout on Saturday to turn out to be the sixth coach to supervise a sport this season. The outcome, nonetheless, was acquainted to the house followers: one other loss. They have now received simply two of their 27 LaLiga video games look set to drop into the second tier of Spanish soccer.

On this displaying, they’re going down with out a lot of a combat, too. They had been far too passive in defence, permitting Ansu and Ferran to attain just about unchallenged. Barca is not going to have a neater time between now and the tip of the season.

Once 4-0 down, they did have a go late on, even hitting the bar, however it was far too little and much too late — for this sport and for the season.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Gavi, Barcelona.
Despite being 18, he was the veteran of Barca’s midfield with De Jong and Busquets not on the pitch — and he performed prefer it.

BEST: Ferran Torres, Barcelona.
Gave Carlos Clerc a torrid time, scored one aim, assisted one.

BEST: Robert Lewandowski, Barcelona.
Scored a brace and created Ferran’s aim with a high-quality cross.

WORST: Omar Mascarell, Elche.
Made block on a Kounde shot however, at this stage, you can’t let Ansu run by way of like he did for the second aim.

WORST: Carlos Clerc, Elche.
The left-back struggled to become familiar with Ferran.

WORST: Jose Angel Carmona, Elche.
The defender performed in midfield however couldn’t have an effect on the sport after which injured himself racing on to a by way of ball.

Highlights and notable moments

After a difficult week amid season-long struggles, you may inform what that aim meant for Ansu Fati.

Robert Lewandowski entered the sport and not using a aim in three league matches. He ensured that streak did not attain 4.

After the match: What the gamers/managers stated

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez on Ansu Fati: “Scoring always breeds confidence for forwards. Everything came off perfectly today. Ansu was tired at the end, he did a lot of work. He is a really important play for me. The goal is a consequence of his hard work and his talent. I am especially happy for him, for Ferran [Torres]… people that deserved to score have scored tonight.”

Xavi on defender Eric Garcia’s function in midfield: “It was [sporting director] Jordi Cruyff’s idea, he has been saying it since last season, that he thinks he has the attributes to play there. We had a friendly game with the B team and he did well there. It was a great performance today. We could have a great pivot on our hands.”

Xavi on Aleix Garrido debut: “He has the Barcelona profile. Technically he is gifted, he has a good final pass… It is still early but he is a player I like.”

Key stats (offered by ESPN Stats and Information)

– Barcelona has 19 clear sheets this season, probably the most by way of 27 matchdays by any crew in LaLiga historical past.

– This is Barcelona’s fifth sport scoring not less than 4 objectives in LaLiga this season. Three of these video games have been on the highway, tied with Bayern Munich and Napoli for many such away video games within the Top 5 European leagues.

Up subsequent

Elche: Their dismal marketing campaign continues with Osasuna paying a go to on April 8 (on ESPN+, 8 a.m. ET).

Barcelona: Back on the Camp Nou on Wednesday to host the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinals conflict in opposition to Clasico rivals Real Madrid (stream the match on ESPN+, 3 p.m. ET). Barcelona go into the match with a one-goal benefit as they goal to proceed their goal of two trophies.

Following that sport, again to LaLiga motion in opposition to Girona on April 10 (stream the match on ESPN+, 3 p.m. ET).


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