Elche 0-0 Barcelona: 6 Things We Learned
Barcelona played Elche to a scoreless draw on Sunday night to take only one point in their race for the La Liga title. Luckily, table leaders Atletico Madrid also drew, meaning the two clubs will be separated by just three points when they face each other in one week.
This was a statement game for both clubs. Barcelona were, of course, looking to keep pace in the title race, while Elche looked to officially secure their place in the Primera next season and succeeded.
The Catalans got off lucky despite putting in a weak performance and now hold their fates in their own hands on Sunday when they host Atletico at the Camp Nou.
With all of that being said, let's now take the time to look at six things we learned from the result on Sunday. Feel free to get involved in the discussion below and let us know what you think of Barcelona's scoreless draw.
All statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Another Dismal Performance from La Blaugrana
The past few months have been full of disappointment for Barcelona and their fans as the club has put in weak performances time and again. Several times it even looked as though the title race was over, but it isn’t.
On Sunday, the Catalans had the chance to do something big. With only two matches left in the season, Barcelona needed a big win, but yet again they didn’t show up.
The Catalans struggled to break through the Elche defense and were even outplayed in the midfield during long stretches of the game. The home side was determined to face Barcelona head on, and it worked.
Many may say that the race isn’t over yet and that everything will be decided next week, which is true. However, this was a match that Barcelona had to win, and they didn’t. They faltered yet again and were not able to get the result they so desperately needed.
Barcelona was bailed out due to Atletico Madrid drawing as well, but this definitely doesn’t look like the time to be playing a title-determining match in one week.
Elche's Defense Saves the Season
If there were any team in La Liga known for their defense, it would definitely be Elche. After achieving promotion last season on top of stellar defensive performances, it is again the back line that has secured safety for Elche.
Elche knew how important this match was. Getting any result would guarantee their safety in the Primera, meaning they would have to give everything they had against Barcelona. That is exactly what the club did, and it paid off big time.
Though Barcelona managed to take 20 shots in the match, they never broke the back line. Elche held strong and earned their 11th clean sheet of the season. It was yet another testament to just how good the defense is and how influential a solid wall at the back can be.
When Elche looks back on this season, they will see the defense as the reason they stayed in the Primera. It was what got them promotion, and what helped the 14th-placed club stay in the top flight.
When Will Finishing off Chances Be Addressed?
Above everything else that happened on Sunday night, there is one problem that stood out in a major way. Barcelona continued to miss chances that must be finished.
To put it in perspective, the Catalans got off 20 shots throughout the match. Eight shots were blocked, but the other 12 chances were left wanting. For a club in the midst of a title race, that is completely unacceptable.
Hats off to the Elche defense for putting in a strong performance, but Barcelona had to do better. For a team to take 20 shots and have nothing to show for it is really questionable, yet it keeps happening.
Possibly Barcelona’s style of play has something to do with their lack of goals, but regardless it must be addressed. The fact that this problem keeps coming up shows that there is a big issue, and it could cost them the title.
When Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in seven days, they will have to be clinical. Missing goalscoring chances could be what decides the game, and Barcelona cannot afford that to happen. It is time to finish off chances if the Catalans want to lift the trophy next weekend.
Next Season Looks Promising for Elche
A mid-table finish for a recently promoted club can be seen as nothing but a success. Elche currently sit 14th, but could climb as high as 11th on the final day of the season.
Now that the club has guaranteed Primera play next season, they can start focusing on what changes need to be made. Elche was finally able to find their feet in the top flight in the second half of the season and now have a lot to build on going into the summer.
As mentioned earlier, Elche boasts a massively talented defense. However, they also have more quality in the squad that could play a big role next year.
Players such as Javier Marquez, Carles Gil, Manu del Moral and Cristian Herrera will have a major impact on the club going forward, while young stars such as Richmond Boakye will only continue to develop during their time at Elche.
In truth, it is a good time to be an Elche fan. The club is now in the Primera and playing exciting football. There is already a solid squad intact, and things could be even better next season. From this point the club can continue to build and may be ready to challenge for a European place in the near future.
It's Time to Decide What to Do with Marc Bartra
It seems like just yesterday the world was talking about the 21-year-old answer to Barcelona’s defensive problems. Well, Marc Bartra now is 23 and still trying to earn a regular spot in the lineup.
Bartra has managed to feature in 24 matches for Barcelona this season, with many of those due to filling in for injured teammates, but he still isn’t seen as a starter. Now the club is talking about rebuilding, but where does Bartra fit in the new plans?
Against Elche, the Catalan center-back again showed flashes of how good he could be. He is now past the point of being considered a young prospect, and it is time that Barcelona decide just what role he will have in the squad before they start bringing in other players.
Of course, the club is looking to strengthen the defense by bringing in new center-backs, but Bartra’s fate has not yet been decided. Will he continue to deputize as a back-up, or will he finally be handed a starting role?
Barcelona can’t continue to play games with Marc Bartra. His role must become more defined or Barcelona could risk losing him. New defenders definitely have to be brought in this summer, but forgetting about Bartra could be a huge mistake.
Everything Comes Down to Next Weekend
Throw everything out of the window. Everything that has happened since August has built up to next weekend. But it doesn’t matter who has scored the most goals, what team has had more clean sheets or who has the most superstars; the only thing that matters is the last game.
Barcelona trail Atletico Madrid by three points now and will host the table leaders at the Camp Nou in just seven days. It is there that the La Liga title will be decided. The Catalans must win to lift the trophy, while a victory or draw will see Atletico finish on top.
Everything that has happened this season has been building up to the match at the Camp Nou, but at the same time, none of it really matters. The 37 matches that have been played so far will have little effect on the actual title. It all comes down to one game where the winner will be crowned.
For Barcelona this will be an interesting match. The Catalans will be coming into the game in fairly poor form, but will also be playing in front of their own fans. It will be the biggest game of the season and everyone knows it.
The title is going to be decided in 90 minutes, and both teams will be sure to put their best foot forward. Next weekend promises thrilling and dramatic action, so don’t miss it.
What do you make of Barcelona's draw against Elche? Who will win the La Liga title next weekend? Leave your thoughts and comments below!