Barcelona will be hoping to bounce back from their Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich when they host Elche in La Liga on Saturday at 3:15pm (UK time).
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Where to watch Barcelona vs Elche on TV:
- UK: La Liga TV
- US: ESPN+
Ever since a baffling Matchday 1 one goalless draw at home against Rayo Vallecano, Barça have four straight in the league, scoring 15 goals and conceded only one. It was a similar story in their in the Champions League opener, in which they hammered Viktoria Plzen 5-1, behind a hat trick from Robert Lewandowski.
No one is saying that this is the Barcelona of Xavi’s playing prime, but it’s fair to say that, in the first half-dozen of the 2022/23 campaign, they were doing a more than passable impersonation. It was against this backdrop that the Blaugrana went to the Allianz Arena in Munich to square off against their Champions League tormenters, Bayern Munich.
The sides’ three meeting over the previous three Champions League campaigns all ended in Bayern victories, two of them (in last season’s champions. League group stage) 3-0, and the third an 8-2 annihilation in the 2020’s one-legged quarterfinal. Anyone who didn’t watch Tuesday night’s match, a 2-0 Bayern win, might assume that was just more of the same, with cosmetic improvement from Barça.
However, in a shift from recent years, Barça travelled to Munich and, for conservatively 75% of the contest, looked the superior side. Spearheaded by Excellent play on the wings from Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele, Barca dominated the first half and, through chances from Lewandowski (three, to be precise), Pedri and Raphinha, narrowly missed not only opening the scoring, but putting the game away. Unfortunately, those chances were not converted, and the portion of the contest that Barcelona did not dominate was the one that consisted of a Lucas Hernandez header off of a corner, and a breakaway that Leroy Sane converted into a goal just four minutes later.
With the last three contests against Bayern have ended in humiliation, this time around Barça will feel angry not because they don’t belong in Bayern’s league, but because of the opportunities they did create, but missed.
For team that’s going this well and is this loaded with talent, the best cure for that type of frustration is the opportunity to get back on the pitch right away, play freely, and, ideally, put up a big number.
There’s no two ways about it: the newly-promoted side from Spain’s southeast has been an absolute disaster. The La Liga season is less than 15% complete, and it already looks as though Elche will need a miracle to avoid relegation. Through five matches, they have scored just two goals while conceding 13, and managed a single point, thanks to a 1-1 Matchday 2 draw against Almería. Elche are already three points adrift of the five-team bundle in 14th-18th place in the league table. Were it not for the truly abominable performance put forth thus far by Cádiz(five losses from five matches, 14 conceded, zero goals scored), Elche would be a virtual lock to finish rock bottom.
Often times, in making predictions or wagers, there’s value in contrarianism. Sometimes though…
No amount of squinting can make this game look like anything other than the monumental mismatch that it is. And, at home on a Saturday afternoon, a frustrated Barça will be eager to take out their frustrations from midweek. Look for the pressure to come early and often, for Barça to be out of sight quickly, and to ultimately be able to name the score.
Scoreline prediction: Barcelona 5-0 Elche
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