Barcelona VS Elche CF – LIVE Reddit Soccer 07/03/2022
Barcelona will look to extend their three-game winning streak across all competitions on Sunday against Elche away at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero. The Blaugrana are in good form, having scored four goals in each of their last three matches against Valencia, Napoli and Athletic Club. Xavi Hernandez will not have Sergi Roberto, Ansu Fati and Samuel Umtiti at his disposal for this LaLiga Santander match due to injuries, but Barcelona now boast a strong attacking line following the January transfer window.
As for Elche, the hosts will play without Pedro Bigas and Helibelton Palacios, who are both out injured, while Ivan Marcone and Javier Pastore could miss out on Sunday’s duel through knocks. Francisco’s side were defeated 3-0 away at bottom-placed Levante last Friday and they will focus all their efforts on getting back to winning ways in their bid to avoid relegation. Barça come into this one having gone through a brutal February with remarkable ease, winning four of six games, playing excellent football and scoring loads of goals in the process. The January signings have settled in quickly, Xavi Hernández continues to improve his players and the team’s structure and Barça look better than almost anyone in the Spanish league as they look to finish in the Top 4.
But anyone who looks at the table and assumes Barça will simply dominate Elche is sadly mistaken: despite their position in the standings, the Green and Whites are unbeaten at home since last November, a run of results that includes wins over Villarreal and Rayo Vallecano, two of the best teams in the league this season. They are well organized at the back and aren’t afraid to take the game to their opposition, and they made it very tough for Barça when these two teams faced off at Camp Nou with Elche coming back from 2-0 down, finding the equalizer and pushing the Blaugrana to the 85th minute when they had to be rescued by a Nico González winner.
This will not be easy even though Barça look almost unstoppable right now, and the Catalans will need to play their best stuff for all 90 minutes. Elche are a dangerous side, and they can absolutely pull off an upset. Barça must keep winning to stay in the Top 4 and control their destiny in the race for a Champions League spot, and they have the bonus of a game in hand that will continue to put pressure on the teams around them as long as Barça keep doing their job.
At the time of Ronald Koeman’s sacking, a top-four finish in La Liga seemed like a distant dream. The team languished below the likes of Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Villarreal as the ship seemed destined to sink. The turnaround since then has been nothing short of remarkable. In their last five games, Barcelona have scored fifteen goals and won on three occasions. All of a sudden, the team threaten to displace Real Betis from the third spot on the league standings and knock on Sevilla’s door. A win on Sunday vs Elche would take Xavi’s side just seven points behind the second-placed team with a game in hand.
Edgar Badia will probably man the goalpost on the night for Rodriguez’s side against Barcelona. The Spaniard averages 3.2 saves per game but has only maintained two clean sheets in 14 games.
Such statistics bring the light onto the centre-back pairing, who have not been at their best. Enzo Roco and Pedro Bigas are expected to be the central defenders on Sunday and will look to turn around their poor form.
Antonio Barragan has a good display against Levante with two clearances, an interception and a key pass. He will cover the right-back position on the night while Johan Mojica takes over duties at left-back. The four-man midfield in Rodriguez’s system will likely see a double pivot, with Omar Mascarell and Raul Guti operating it. Gerard Gumbau has made a strong case to start ahead of the latter, but his red card against Levante sees him miss the clash against Xavi’s side.