Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has opened up on what coach Xavi told his players at half-time after the Catalan giants came from 1-0 down to beat Elche 2-1 in La Liga.
Fidel Chaves opened the scoring for the hosts just before the break but Barca went on to take all three points thanks to second-half goals from substitutes Ferran Torres and Memphis Depay.
Ter Stegen spoke to Movistar after the break and explained what Xavi had wanted from his team in the second half of the match at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero, as reported by Marca.
“Xavi told us at the break to improve the intensity,” he said. “They marked us man to man all over the pitch but we looked for different things in the second half and it worked out well for us.”
The win moves Barcelona into third place in the table and, temporarily at least, above Real Betis. Los Verdiblancos came leapfrog the Catalan giants if they beat defending champions Atletico Madrid in the late kick-off.
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Handballs Make Headlines
Barcelona’s winner came from the penalty spot after Elche’s Antonio Barragán had been penalized for handball after a VAR check. The hosts then had a handball claim of their own in the final minutes but saw it turned down by the referee.
Ter Stegen spoke about the incident after the match and made it clear he thought the referee was correct not to award Elche a penalty for a handball by left-back Jordi Alba.
“You can always discuss a lot about hands in the area,” he said. “I haven’t seen it on TV, but it seems to me that Jordi turns around and isn’t looking or knows where the arm is. We can’t take our shoulders off when we enter the area.”
Barcelona’s victory continues the team’s improved form under Xavi and means the Catalan giants extend their unbeaten run in La Liga to 11 games. The win is also the first time Elche have been beaten at home since Francisco took over as manager in November 2021.
Xavi Talks Barcelona Comeback
Xavi also made a change to his team at half-time which proved crucial to the team’s comeback. Midfielder Gavi was replaced by Ferran Torres who went on to score the equalizer for Barcelona.
The coach admitted after the game that he was unhappy with his team’s first-half performance and explained why he had decided to make the change to his team for the second 45 minutes.
“I think the result is fair. We were able to win more easily. Elche had a great game. It was very difficult and it’s a vital victory,” he said. “At the break I had the feeling that we didn’t deserve to lose. I was angry. I had the feeling that by attacking better, we would win. We made a tactical change in that sense.”
More changes followed with Adama Traore and Memphis replacing Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Memphis scored the winner from the penalty spot and has now scored in consecutive games since returning from injury.