Elche 0-2 Barcelona Making the difference for Barcelona
Sergio Busquets wore the captain’s armband in Lionel Messi‘s absence, but it was Frenkie de Jong who led Barcelona past Elche at the Estadio Martinez Valero.
The Dutchman is maturing into his role in the Blaugrana midfield, making the most of having Ronald Koeman as a coach that knows him so well.
“He’s going to succeed at Barcelona, I’m sure of it,” Koeman said about De Jong when he was still Netherlands boss. It turns out he was right.
After a slow start to this season, the former Ajax player has really stepped up in recent matches. On Sunday, he scored one and set up another as Barcelona recorded their fifth successive win on the road.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was well within his rights to be angry at his back four at one stage in the second half.
Samuel Umtiti‘s pass to Oscar Mingueza wasn’t ideal, which led the young defender to lose possession to Emiliano Rigoni inside his own half. Ter Stegen‘s wide spread was the only thing that stopped Elche from levelling.
It’s no secret that Barcelona struggle to score goals when Messi isn’t around. It happened in midweek against Cornella and it happened again at Elche.
Antoine Griezmann practically disappeared again, and it wasn’t until the last couple of minutes that Riqui Puig finally killed off the game.
It was interesting to see Koeman give Umtiti a start over Clement Lenglet in the Barcelona defence on Sunday. The former Lyon centre-back is perhaps the weakest of them all in the Blaugrana squad, but his compatriot isn’t having a great season either.
Both Ronald Araujo and Mingueza appear to be higher up the pecking order than the two established first teamers.