With just 11 games remaining, Barca are edging ever closer to a first league title since 2019, while Elche, who ended up 13 points adrift, need a miracle to avoid relegation to the second division.
1. Ansu needed a goal at the end of a difficult week
The most significant of Barca’s four goals was Ansu’s goal. He has dominated media coverage in Catalonia this week after his father Bori gave it up an interview in which he said he thinks he should leave Barca looking for more minutes. Bori spoke as a father. He said he understood that the competition for places was fierce and that Xavi Hernandez had guided Barca to a commanding lead at the top of the table, but he pointed out that his son was the one chosen to inherit Lionel Messi‘s No. 10 shirt.
Against moose, with Ousmane Dembele injured & Raphinha suspended, Ansu came into the side. Despite Boris’ concerns, the numbers haven’t lied lately. The Spain Striker has been without a league goal since October and without a goal in any competition since January – a streak of 12 games. It didn’t look like a change in the first half.
But just 20-year-old Ansu took his chance in the second half, took the ball down the center line and was allowed to run towards the penalty area, where he scored a brilliant finish into the bottom corner. It’s the kind of goal that Barca, Ansu and Bori will all help change the youngster’s fate and earn him more minutes in the coming months.
Ansu’s goal was pinched by two Lewandowski goals. The Polish striker has not been in red-hot form lately but now has 17 goals in LaLiga – a league high – and like Ansu his confidence should be boosted ahead of Wednesday classic against Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey (Stream the game on ESPN+ at 3:00 p.m. ET).
2. Xavi tinkers with pre-Copa lineup classic
After the international break and with Real Madrid on Wednesday, Barcelona made five changes to the LaLiga-winning team classic End of March. most interesting is Eric Garcia, a centre-back, was deployed as a defensive midfielder. He has done well but bigger tests will come if he is to move to this position on a permanent basis.
Further up Ferran came into play on the right flank and also passed the test. A nice cross at the end of the first half deserved a goal – Lewandowski couldn’t convert – and in the second third he scored his own goal really well. Later there was a debut for 19-year-old midfielder Aleix Garrido.
Xavi’s transfers were mainly influenced by injuries. Dembele, Frenkie deJong, Andrew Christensen were all missed with blows. De Jong could face Madrid again; The other three will probably not be there. However, Raphinha will return after his suspension Sergio Busquets and Alejandro Balde will benefit from a break here.
3. Elche’s sixth manager this season but same result
Sebastian Beccacece sat in Elche’s dugout on Saturday, becoming the sixth coach to oversee a game this season. However, the result was known to the home fans: another defeat. They have now won just two of their 27 LaLiga games and appear to be stepping up to the second tier of Spanish football.
On this show, they also go down without much of a fight. They were far too passive on defense, allowing Ansu and Ferran to score virtually unchallenged. Barca won’t have it any easier until the end of the season.
After being 4-0 down, they tried late, even hit the crossbar, but it was way too little and way too late – for this game and for the season.
Best and worst performers
Despite being 18, he was Barca’s midfield veteran with De Jong and Busquets absent from the pitch – and he played like that.
BEST: Ferran Torres, Barcelona.
Gave Carlos Clerc a hot time, a goal scored, one set up.
BEST: Robert Lewandowski, Barcelona.
Scored a brace and set up Ferran’s goal with a fine pass.
WORST: Omar Maskarellmoose.
Blocked a Jules Kounde shot well but at this level you can’t let Ansu go through like he did with the second goal.
WORST: Carlos Clerc, Moose.
The left-back struggled to get Ferran under control.
WORST: Jose Angel Carmona, Moose.
The defender played in midfield but was unable to influence the game and then injured himself while heading for a through ball.
Highlights and notable moments
After a difficult week amid years of struggle, you can see what that goal meant for Ansu Fati.
ANSU FATI TAKES ALL FOR HIS FIRST LEAGUE GOAL SINCE OCTOBER 😤 pic.twitter.com/XankkP0TAa
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 1, 2023
Robert Lewandowski went into the game without a goal in three league games. He made sure Streak didn’t reach four.
LEWANDOWSKI GETS HIS BRACE ✌️ pic.twitter.com/06Klu6rGFs
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 1, 2023
After the game: What the players/coaches said
Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez on Ansu Fati: “Scoring goals always gives a striker confidence. Everything went perfectly today. Ansu was tired at the end, he worked a lot. He’s a really important player for me. The goal is the result of his hard work and talent. I’m happy especially for him, for Ferran [Torres]… People who deserved to score scored a goal tonight.”
Xavi on defender Eric Garcia’s role in midfield: “It was [sporting director] Jordi Cruyff’s idea, he’s been saying it since last season, that he thinks he has the qualities to play there. We had a friendly with the B team and he did well there. That was a great achievement today. We could have a great pivot on our hands.”
Xavi on Aleix Garrido debut: “He has the Barcelona profile. Technically he’s gifted, he has a good finishing pass… It’s still early days but he’s a player I like.”
Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– Barcelona have kept 19 clean sheets this season, the most in 27 matchdays of any team in LaLiga history.
– This is Barcelona’s fifth game to score at least four goals in LaLiga this season. Three of those games were on the road, connected to Bayern Munich And Naples for most of those away games in the top five European leagues.
Barcelona: Back at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, where the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals will be played classic Competitor Real Madrid (SBroadcast the game on ESPN+ at 3:00 p.m. ET). Barcelona go into the game with a one-goal lead to continue their goal of two trophies.