Elche 0-2 Barcelona: result, summary and goals
Elche 0-2 Barcelona: LaLiga as it happened
Peep peep peeeep!
Barcelona beat Elche and move back up to third in LaLiga. It's a deserved win in the end, but they do have Ter Stegen to thank for a crucial save 10 minutes into the second half - had Rigoni taken that one-on-one chance, the hosts would have been level and the afternoon could have turned out very differently for Barça.
For the first time since Ronald Koeman took over at the Camp Nou, Barça have registered four LaLiga wins on the trot; for Elche, on the other hand, it is now 13 league games without victory, and they drop to 19th, two points shy of safety. It should be noted that they have two games in hand on their fellow strugglers, though.
That's all from me - thanks for reading!
Two minutes of time added on.
...and Puig scores with his first involvement! 2-0 to Barcelona!
De Jong does excellently to drive into the box and to the byline, before lofting a cross to the back post for Puig to head in! That's his first goal for the Barça first team. Fine play from De Jong.
Barça make another change, replacing De Jong with Riqui Puig.
Again Badía does well to save! Griezmann bursts into crossing space on the left and clips the ball right onto Trincao's head. The Portuguese's plants a firm effort towards the corner, but Badía beats it out!
Griezmann becomes the second Barça player to go into the book after scything down Morente. Nasty challenge that.
That's another fine stop from Badía! Substitute Trincão enjoys his first attacking involvement of any substance, snaking his way into shooting space in the box before curling a drive towards the Elche keeper's far post, but he does well to parry it away to safety.
Nino came on for Elche a few moments earlier, by the way, replacing Víctor Rodríguez
Antoine Griezmann and Diego González enjoy an impromptu game of Twister at the Martínez Valero.
(Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)
On comes Trincão, in place of Ousmane Dembélé.
Elche make a double change, meanwhile, Rigoni and Raúl Guti making way for Luismi and Tete Morente.
Pedri picks the ball up and scampers into the area, before his attempted cut-back is blocked by Josan Ferrández. There are Barça shouts for handball, but they're waved away by the officials, seemingly because it hit an arm that was adjudged to have been placed on the ground and used for support. Replays suggest otherwise, but on we play...
Francisco Trincão is about to come on for Barcelona.
Busquets picks up the game's first yellow card after bringing down Barragán. It's a booking that'll bring with a one-match ban, so Barça will be without the midfielder in their next league game, against Athletic Club in a week's time.
Now Barça do find a bit of penetration, though. Umtiti slips a cute little ball between the lines into Pedri, who turns, sets off towards goal and shoots. His effort riochets off González's leg and, just for a moment, looks like it's going to loop over Badía, but the keeper finally claims.
After that eventful couple of minutes, we've hit a bit of a lull. Barcelona are stroking it about in front of Elche's two banks of four and five, but with little in the way of penetration or end product.
That's a fine stop by Badía! Dembélé gets it out of his feet on the edge of the box and curls a left-footed effort towards the top corner, but the Elche keeper beats it out!
It's been a lively couple of minutes.
What a chance for Rigoni! Minngueza's first touch is poor and suddenly the Elche man is charging in behind the Barça defence and through on Ter Stegen... but the German stands up and makes himself big, and parries! A huge let-off for the visitors!
This still tweeted by Spanish football stats guru Mister Chip certainly seems to confirm the ball hadn't crossed the line before De Jong got his boot to it.
(From left to right) Braithwaite, Mingueza, De Jong, Griezmann and Alba celebrate Barcelona's opener at the Estadio Martínez Valero.
Elche launch their first attack of substance since the break, Raúl Guti cutting the ball back for Ferrández to shoot from the edge of the box - but he hooks his effort wide of the near post.
Barcelona start firmly on the front foot, attacking with a degree of tempo and urgency we didn't see enough of in the first half. First, Dembélé's cross is cleared, only for Griezmann to win it right back and find Alba's run into the box. He flashes it across the face of goal - but nobody in a black shirt can get a connection on it.
Peeeep! We're back up and running. No half-time changes for either side.
Peep peeep peeeep! Barça lead at the break and, on balance, probably deserve to. Elche have competed well, though, and could yet get themselves back into this... albeit they'll need to end a 43-year scoring drought against the Blaugrana to do so.
Elche look to hit back immediately, Josan Ferrández cutting in from the right and shooting low towards Ter Stegen's near post - but he'll have to do better than that to trouble the German.
Hold on, another look at the replay of that Barça opener suggests De Jong crashed the ball into the net before González's wayward clearance bounced in, so it appears it'll go down as the Dutchman's goal.
Goal! Barcelona lead! The visitors have hardly been scintillating so far but, to be fair to them, they had been pretty much camped in Elche's half for the past 15 minutes or so and they get themselves ahead thanks to a Diego González own goal.
Braithwaite sends a low, right-footed cross in from the left and, as Griezmann prepares to sweep the ball home, González gets there first - and succeeds only in turning the ball past Badía and into his own net.
That's a decent strike from Pedri - but it flies further wide than it appeared at first glance. Griezmann's right-wing free-kick is cleared only as far as the teenager, who pings it first time back towards Badía's goal, but can't direct it on target.
Araújo stops an Elche attack and, for the first time this afternoon, Barça have a bit of space to run into. Pedri scuttles into the Franjiverdes' penalty box but is crowded out as he looks to organise his feet to get his strike away, and has to turn and lay it off for Busquets, whose shooting isn't exactly his strong point - and he duly trundles a daisy-cutter straight into Badía's arms.
Dembélé is really the only Barça player offering any real attacking spark - and his cross into the box leads to a shooting chance for Jordi Alba which is their clearest yet. Alba can't capitalise, though: the ball evades everyone and runs to the top of the area to the left-back, who slices his shot a good yard or two wide.
Dembélé tries to jink his way through about five men in white and into the box, but is pretty easily run off it.
Elche have been very decent so far. They're yet to be overly troubled by Barcelona, and have put together the odd promising attack.
Just as I say that, Rigoni lunges in on Mingueza and gives Barça another free-kick on the right... but Dembélé's outswinging delivery is headed clear.
Ooh, that's some encouraging attacking play by the hosts - who, remember, haven't scored in a competitive match against Barcelona since the late 1970s. Boyé almost opens up the visiting defence with a lovely backheel, before Mojica pops up again on the left to whip in a cross onto Raúl Guti's head, the midfielder glancing a yard or so over the bar.
Braithwaite lulls Barragán into an ever so slightly rash attempt to win the ball back and is tripped by the full-back, giving Barça another chance to swing a free-kick into the box.
Marcone gets Dembélé's near-post delivery stuck under his feet and fails to clear, Griezmann nipping into take the ball of his toes and cut it back from the byline - but De Jong is a couple of inches too short to get his head to the Frenchman's chipped ball.
Rigoni feeds Mojica to cross from the left, the new signing fizzing in an eminently snap-up-able cross... but no-one in a white and green shirt is there to do the snapping-up, and Jordi Alba gets it clear.
De Jong is flattened by a robust González challenge from behind, giving Ousmane Dembélé an opportunity to clip a dead ball into the box. Clip it in he does, but Antoine Griezmann can't get enough power or direction on his header, and Edgar Badía grabs hold of it with ease.
Raúl Guti, a man with a name that sounds like a Real Madrid-themed Football Manager re-gen, swings an inviting ball across the Barcelona box - but none of his Elche team-mates have kept up with his surge down the right wing, and the cross sails harmless out.
Barcelona win a corner on the left, which is whipped in nicely towards the near-post run of Samuel Umtiti, but the defender can't get his head on the ball and it wouldn't have counted, anyway. The whistle goes for a foul on Diego González.
Lucas Boyé slips Johan Mojica into a promising crossing position on the left, but the hosts' early attack is brought to a grinding halt by the assistant referee's flag. The full-back was a good yard or two offside.
This is Mojica's home debut for Elche, by the way. The Colombian joined from Atalanta earlier this month.
Peeeeep! Referee Valentín Pizarro Gómez blows his whistle and we're underway at the Martínez Valero.
What the coaches said: Jorge Almirón, Elche
"Without Messi, Barça play a more structured game but are missing the magic of the best player in the world. They’re a different team without him and they’ve been playing a lot of games and have players missing through injury. So if we are clever, and concentrate hard, we have a chance."
(Per fcbarcelona.com; photo: Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
What the coaches said: Ronald Koeman, Barcelona
Barcelona's penalty pain:
"Counting the ones in the Super Cup, we've taken 12 penalties this season and missed seven of them; that's a lot. Anyone can miss a penalty, but that is too much. Leo [Messi] is the penalty taker and if he is not available we need to have players with quality to put them away. We have been practising in training because that's where we can improve, the same with free-kicks. Taking a penalty on the training pitch is not the same as taking one during a match when you are behind on the scoreboard. The important thing is to practise and not be in any doubt. We have to do something about it because we can't accept missing so many."
Koeman's criticism of team after Copa win:
"I'm not going to lie. I say what I see. The team's attitude was faultless, but sometimes you only focus on the bad things I have to say. If you are a Barça player, there are demands on you. I criticise them with respect. I'm not having a go at anyone, I want to help them, but if we are playing against Cornellà, with all due respect to them, and we cannot beat them in 90 minutes, I have to say what I see; if not, you'd be better off with another coach."
(Photo: Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Elche without a goal against Barça in 43 years
Elche’s record against Barcelona bodes rather ill for the Franjiverdes’ prospects of arresting their recent run of dicey form - and that's an understatement. They have not scored a single goal against the Catalans in a competitive match since all the way way back in 1978.
Since then, the sides' 10 meetings in league and cup have yielded eight Barça wins and two draws, with an aggregate score of 31-0. Eighteen of those goals have come in the teams’ last four clashes, which the Blaugrana have won 3-0, 5-0, 4-0 and 6-0.
(Photo: Alberto Iranzo/Diario AS)
Barcelona on sequence of eight games on the road
Today's game at Elche will be Barcelona's SEVENTH game in a row away from the Camp Nou - and with one more to come, too.
Since beating Eibar 2-1 at home on 29 December, the Catalans have gone Huesca, Athletic Club and Granada in LaLiga and Cornellà in the Copa del Rey, and played Spanish Super Cup clashes with Real Sociedad and Athletic in Córdona and Seville, respectively.
It’s a sequence of fixtures that Koeman described as "brutal, crazy" in his pre-match press conference on Saturday.
Barça also come into today's match having seen each of their last three games go to extra time.
Koeman rings the changes for Barcelona
Barça boss makes seven changes to the side that beat Cornellà in the Copa del Rey - despite missing two penalties - as Marc-André Ter Stegen, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba, Frenkie De Jong, Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé all return to the XI.
Meanwhile, there are three changes for Elche, who played out a 2-2 LaLiga draw with Real Valladolid last time out, as Iván Marcone returns from suspension, and Diego González and Víctor Rodríguez also come back in.
Elche team news
Starting line-up: Badía, Barragán, Verdú, González, Mojica, Marcone, Ferrández, Víctor, Guti, Rigoni, Boyé
Substitutes: Rodríguez, Miño, Nino, Milla, Morente, Luismi, Lucu, Cifuentes, Josema, John C, Barri, Salinas
Barcelona team news
Starting line-up: Ter Stegen, Mingueza, Araújo, Umtiti, Alba, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Griezmann, Braithwaite, Dembélé
Substitutes: Lenglet, Firpo, Trincao, Fernandes, Dest, Pjanic, Tenas, De la Fuente, Puig, Neto
Elche on 12-game winless run in LaLiga
Hosts Elche are on a rather less promising run of LaLiga form than their visitors, on the other hand, having won precisely zero of their last 12 league games since beating Valencia in October.
Jorge Almirón’s side find themselves in the drop zone, and came into this weekend's round of games a point from safety. They do have games in hand, though.
Elche vs Barcelona: ¡hola!
Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of Barcelona’s LaLiga trip to Elche, as Ronald Koeman’s men look to continue what has been a decent run of form in the Spanish top flight.
The Blaugrana are now unbeaten in eight LaLiga games since going down to Cádiz in December, and have won each of their last three. A victory today would be the first time they have won four in a row in the league under Koeman.
However, they remain a way off leaders Atlético Madrid: 10 points separate them from Los Rojiblancos - who have also played one game fewer as it stands.
Lionel Messi bagged a brace in Barça's two most recent league wins, against Athletic Club and Granada, but the Catalans will be without the Argentine today as he serves the second game of his two-match ban for his Spanish Super Cup final red card.