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Messi brace leads Barça to 3-0 win against Elche

Messi and Braithwaite celebrating Barça’s first goal. (Source: @FCBarcelona, twitter.com)

After a rough week for Barça, they returned to winning ways against 19th placed Elche, with a 3-0 win in the Camp Nou. Ronald Koeman, Jordi Alba, and Martin Braithwaite spoke after the game.

The first half was below par, with slow and tentative build-up in the middle of the park from Barça, and little in the form of chances for either side. In the second half, Barça turned on the style, as Messi scored two goals before Martin Braithwaite set up Jordi Alba for Barça’s third of the night.

Here is what Ronald Koeman had to say after the game:

On what he liked most about the game
The first part was very weak, we lacked rhythm and we had no chances. The second half was better because the rhythm and depth of the team improved.

On what he told his team at halftime
I was unhappy with the pace of the game, with our slow build-up play. And then the defense was too far back. We improved in the second half. We scored three goals and we were able to do more. Everyone could see that the intensity and rhythm of the ball was lacking. It is normal for Messi to ask for more intensity.

On what Pjanic needs to improve
The rhythm of the ball, knowing his position. But always, if you take off a player, it seems that he is the culprit. It is not like this. The starters did not add enough pace to the game, so we preferred that Leo play ten and put in Ousmane. And that’s why we took off Miralem.

On Messi saving the team
When I’m talking about veterans stepping up, it’s not about Leo. There are other veterans who have to make a difference. And Messi has made a difference and has proven to be very, very important for this team.

On whether the team’s attitude was lacking in the first half
There was a lack of rhythm in the game, that does not depend on the attitude. We wanted to play a good game from the beginning, but sometimes things don’t work out for you. We are not machines, we are human. But the team has shown its personality and its will in the first half.

On Braithwaite

If we can look for passes between the lines, it is always better. Martin pushes the rivals back and that’s good.

On Pedri

It is always important to have players like him because he can play in different positions. Only the smart ones can do it and he is one of them.

On the rotations

We play a lot of games and that could influence the fatigue levels of some players. That’s why we made changes: to have more freshness. We don’t have only eleven players and sometimes we have to make rotations.

Here is what Jordi Alba had to say:

On what the victory means for the team
On a mental level it helps us a lot. It still depends on the games we play until the end of the season for us to fight for LaLiga. The draw the other day was a hard blow. Today it was also difficult for us in the first half because they marked us very well. But in the second half we were better and the goals came.

On what changed at half time
We scored the first goal very quickly and more spaces were opened up. It was difficult for us in the first half. In the second, we were better.

On the team’s efficiency tonight
We didn’t have many clear opportunities either and Leo’s two goals gave us peace of mind. It was a difficult match against a great rival too. Now, to keep on winning games.

On Koeman asking the veterans to step up
The energy is always there and, as the coach said, we have to help young people so that they feel more comfortable. But the desire of the young people and those of us who have been here the longest have to be there. What you have to do is fight until the last minute and give joy to the fans. These are difficult times.

On Barça’s chances in LaLiga
We have always said it: there is league. From the outside, a few days ago they said that we are out of contention or that we are done. But we depend on us and the one who fails the least will have more options to win this highly competitive league.

Here is what Martin Braithwaite had to say:

On his two assists
I think it is the first time I have given two assists in a game, but I hope it is not the last. I saw Messi and tried to help him to score, just like with Alba in the third goal. I also feel good giving assists even if I don’t score.

On how he feels after the victory
I am very happy, we played a good game and now it’s time to continue in Saturday’s game against Sevilla.


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