Barcelona 3-2 Elche summary: score, goals, highlights, LaLiga 2021-22
Barcelona 3-2 Elche: as it happened
Barcelona 3-2 Elche: match summary
Barcelona arrested a run of three games without a win against Elche at Camp Nou on Saturday but once again threatened to turn three points into one - or worse - with a defensive display that fortunately for Xavi was masked by the verve and incisiveness of his fledgling attacking force. Shorn of several senior players, and most of those forwards, the Barça boss handed a full debut to summer signing Ferran Jutglà, who opened the scoring with a glancing header early in the first half. Gavi, who has been Barcelona's best performer since Xavi's arrival in the dugout, added a wonderful second after a fine run and expert finish to put Barça firmly in the driving seat going into the break.
However, as had been the case first at Balaídos against Celta and then when facing Osasuna, the home side proved themselves incapable of preserving a lead and Elche struck back with two goals in 93 second-half seconds, having not previously found the back of the net at Camp Nou in 43 years. Visiting boss Francisco deserves credit for the turnaround, rolling his dice with attacking substitutions straight after the break and adding two more on the hour-mark to press home the advantage Elche has wrested from the hosts.
Elche's goals were scored by subs Tete Morente and Pere Milla in a catastrophic minute and a half for Barça's back line, which disintegrated after a relatively calm opening 45. Morente also provided the assist for Milla in a swashbuckling 20 minutes when Barça's left was hopelessly exposed. Xavi had lamented his side's inability to grasp positional play before the game and other sides will have taken note of the vast open space afforded to Elche in the area that should have been the responsibility of the veteran Jordi Alba.
Xavi though showed he has some nous in the shuffling of the deck department, resisting the temptation to throw on a target man in Luuk de Jong and instead trusting his instincts to flood the pitch with midfielders and wide players. The Barça boss was rewarded when Gavi and Nico combined in the 85th minute for the substitute to stab home and seal a much-needed victory, but he will also be in little doubt that whatever cash Joan Laporta can free up in January needs to be spent on his defence ahead of anything else with La Masia providing enough firepower up front for now.
And there's the whistle, to the palpable relief of Camp Nou! What a game, and Barça edge it courtesy of Nico's late strike.
Barça let a long ball run out for a throw and they are in no hurry to take it...
Barça are simply trying to keep possession now, Elche chasing shadows as the clock ticks down.
Gavi and Puig combine on the edge of the Elche area but the visitors clear.
Barça happy enough to play keep-ball for now
Six minutes added!
Elche coach Francisco gets himself a yellow for a touchline observation. The visitors felt Gavi was offside in the build-up to the goal but replays showed he was on, by a whisker.
Abde makes way for Balde
Barça pick their way through Elche's defence with some neat first-time passing and the substitute picks up the ball practically on the penalty spot and stabs past Edgar to restore Barça's lead.
Josema is on to get Elche back up to strength, and Lucas Pérez now appears to be injured with no subs left for the visitors.
Elche temporarily down to 10 men as the Colombian defender limps off.
Mojica has been grimacing for some time with what looks like a muscle inury and is now down after a foot race with Dembélé, much to the annoyance of Camp Nou.
Eric García goes into the book for a tactical foul to prevent that break from coming to anything.
Corner for Barça, their fifth of the game. It's cleared easily enough though and Elche break.
Xavi has Luuk de Jong on the bench, but seems reluctant to throw the Dutch striker on at the moment.
Riqui Puig comes on for Barcelona, Frenkie de Jong makes way.
Palacios! Off the line! The Colombia defender stays back as Edgar goes for the ball and prevents Nico from scoring!
Balde and Coutinho warming up for Barça. Camp Nou needs a hero.
Jutglá makes way after a stunning debut game, Nico comes on for Barça.
Taking into account Celta, Osasuna and Elche, that makes a three-goal lead, two single goal leads and a 2-0 advantage spurned by Barça in recent weeks.
Jutglá! This time he misses, from under the bar! No flag either.
This remains the problem with Xavi's Barcelona. For every fine attacking player he finds down the back of the La Masia sofa, he needs at least one more in defence, where Barça are incredibly frail.
Francisco's subs have certainly paid off! Milla this time appears at the far post after Morente attacks the open space on Barça's left and delivers a wicked cross for his fellow substitute. What a turnaround!
Goooooooooooooooool! Pere Milla!
Boyé does incredibly well to keep the ball in on the touchline and finds the substitute, who gets the better of Lenglet and hammers a shot past Ter Stegen to get Elche right back in it.
Mascarell and Fidel off for Elche, Pere Milla and Raúl Guti on.
Jutglá! Another chance for the striker, who hits the target yet again. We're not sure he's failed to get a shot between the sticks at all this afternoon.
Fidel sends in a fizzing cross but Ter Stegen is alert and beats the two Lucases, Pérez and Boyé, to the delivery.
Gavi! Lovely from Barça's front three. Dembélé plays a ball into Abde, who backheels for Gavi to shoot, but he can't quite get enough curl on it to find the inside of the far post.
Barça will leapfrog Valencia into seventh overnight if the result here stays the same, with Los Che in action tomorrow.
Pérez! Jordi Alba badly misjudges a header back to Ter Stegen and the striker is through but clips an effort wide. Two excellent chances for Elche and Barça appear to be suffering from second-half syndrome again.
Boyé! Morente is straight into the thick of it and plays a nice ball into space in the area, which the striker had drifted into, but he can't get any power on his shot.
We're back underway!
Tete Morente and Gumbau are on for Elche after the break.
Barcelona have now had four scorers in LaLiga this season born in the 21st century: Gavi, Ansu, Nico and Abde. Is that still a thing or did we just get old?
That was quite a half from Gavi: 44 touches, 100% pass success rate, three shots, one on target, one goal.
Mojica floors Dembélé and the ref blows for the half, nothing added on. It's been an entertaining display from Barça.
Gavi! Great work from Abde on the left tees up the teenager for a glorious chance but he shoots straight at the nearest defender.
Jordi Alba bursts into the area and gets a toe to a long ball but can't keep it in.
Roco! That is a lovely delivery from Pérez and the Chile defender reads it perfectly but clips his shot over the bar. The flag was up anyway.
That was Barça's 11th shot of the half. Elche have managed just the one so far.
Abde! The young winger drifts in from the left, shimmies and strikes but his effort is high.
Dembélé, Abde, Busquets... three shots in turn and three Elche blocks. Barça are looking to put this one away before half-time.
A terrible pass from Diego González lets Barça in but Gavi gets a little over-excited and tries his luck from a long way out, walloping the nearest Elche defender.
Boyé gets behind the Barça defence but can't keep a ball into his feet from pinging out for a goal kick.
Lenglet is rather fortunate there as he clatters into Lucas Pérez with nothing between them and Ter Stegen's goal. A flag fluttering on the far side saves the referee a decision there.
Mind you, we vaguely remember Barcelona going in 3-0 up at half time against Celta a couple of weeks ago...
Roco! The defender brings the ball down with glorious chest control and only has to beat Ter Stegen but he snatches at the effort and skies it from a few metres out. Elche need a quick reply here.
Gavi again! What a player this lad is. He turns on a sixpence in the area and tries to chip Edgar, landing his shot on the roof of the net.
The 17-year-old picks up the ball in midfield, loses Mascarell with a deft touch, drives forward, sells the Elche defence a dummy and tucks his shot in off the post to make it 2-0! Camp Nou is on it's feet chanting his name!
The former Espanyol youth teamer, making his first start for Barcelona, arrives in the area to meet a corner and glances his header past Edgar.
Nice work from Dembélé who reads a through ball, races back, intercepts and then prevents a corner. It looks it's going to be an enjoyable battle between the Frenchman and Fidel on that side of the pitch.
After a cagey opening 10 minutes Elche are starting to open up a bit now and string a nice passing move together before Abde nails Josan in midfield.
Francsico has his side well-drilled at the back, with six white shirts converging around the area whenever Barça attack.
Lucas Pérez launches an Elche break but the return ball is behind the former Arsenal and West Ham striker.
Elche release Mojica on the left but again the flag is up when the full back thought he had a clean run.
The visitors are playing a very high line in the opening exchanges, something we fancy Dembélé will be eyeing with interest.
What a story that would have been! Jutglá has the ball in the back of the net but it's pulled back for offside. He did look a smidge off as the ball was clipped over the Elche defence.
We're underway! Elche get the ball rolling in Camp Nou, where it's a crisp enough 12º.
- 3Enzo Roco
- 14Helibelton Palacios
- 4Diego González
- 21Omar Mascarell
- 9Lucas Boyé
- 12Lucas Pérez
A quick confirmation of the line-ups.
- 1Ter Stegen
- 15Clement Lenglet
- 4Ronald Araújo
- 24Eric Garcia
- 21Frenkie De Jong
- 33Abdessamad Ezzalzouli
- 29Ferrán Jutglà
- 7Ousmane Dembélé
"We lack understanding to our game. Some players are struggling to understand positional play and that is surprising for a Barça player," the Camp Nou boss said ahead of today's game. "Elche will be an acid test for us to change this negative dynamic we're in."
Elche starting XI confirmed
Lucas Boyé and Lucas Pérez will lead the line for the visitors, with Josan and Fidel providing the width. Former Barcelona player Gerard Gumbau starts on the bench against his old club.
Barcelona starting XI confirmed
Xavi has gone with Abde, Dembélé and Gavi, and Jordi Alba returns in good news for the Barça boss. Barça B forward Ferran Jutglà gets a second senior appearance and Clément Lenglet and Eric Garcia will be entrusted with the centre of defence in the absence of Piqué.
Results have not been forthcoming for Elche this season and Los Ilicitanos are hovering above the relegation zone after only three wins in 17 games. Francisco, who was installed last month in place of Fran Escribá, does have four points from his three games in charge though.
Elche boss Francisco has more or less a full squad to choose from today with Johan Mojica and Pedro Bigas the only doubts. There is plenty of attacking verve available to the visitors as well in the form of Argentineans Pablo Piatti, Javier Pastore and on-loan Marseille striker Darío Benedetto.
Xavi to field makeshift forward line
The Barcelona boss is without Martin Braithwaite, Ansu Fati, Memphis, Pedri, Demir and Sergi Roberto this afternoon through injury and Gerard Piqué through suspension, so will likely throw Barça B winger Abde Ezzalzouli on with Ousmane Dembélé and Gavi in an experimental forward line.
Elche's Barcelona record
On the one hand, Elche's record against Barcelona should give Xavi reason for cheer, but on the other today's game is something of a double-edged sword for the Barça boss as the opposition have not scored in this fixture in their last eight attempts. That run includes 2-0 and 3-0 wins in LaLiga last season, a 6-0 and a 4-0 during Elche's first run in Primera back in 2014 and 2015 and a 9-0 aggregate drubbing in the Copa.
Xavi looking to turn the Barcelona tide
The legendary midfielder's honeymoon period at Camp Nou did not last long: following wins over Espanyol, Dynamo Kyiv and Espanyol, Xavi has seen his side lose to Betis and Bayern and draw with Osasuna last time out, despite twice taking the lead.
Barcelona may well be out of the title race this season - Xavi is still hopeful that he can lead his side to silverware this season but it will have to be elsewhere, in the Europa League or the Copa de Rey - but they are still within touching distance of the European places. A Champions League spot for next season may well be the minimum requirement for some of their potential transfer targets, not least Erling Haaland.
To see what time the game starts where you are, and to see if it's available to watch or stream around the world, look no further than out handy pre-match preview and viewing guide.
Barcelona vs Elche: welcome
Hello and welcome to AS USA's live coverage of the LaLiga Week 18 match between Barcelona and Elche from Camp Nou. Kick-off this afternoon is at 18:30 local time.