Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the game as Barcelona beat promoted side Elche in the Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou on Saturday evening.
The Gamper Trophy is the Catalan club’s traditional curtain-raiser and the first chance for Barca fans to watch their team in action at Camp Nou, but there are still no supporters allowed in the stands due to Covid-19.
New coach Ronald Koeman sent a message to the fans in a video before kick-off, telling them their presence was felt and that the team would give everything in all the competitions this season.
Koeman, who left popular midfielder Riqui Puig out of his squad for this game and has told the 20-year-old he is not in his plans this season, opted for his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
In it, Griezmann was the lone striker and the Frenchman fired Barca in front inside two minutes as Lionel Messi played a low ball through to Jordi Alba on the left and the defender cut the ball back to give the former Atletico attacker an easy finish.
It looked like Barca might run away with it after that early strike, but Elche competed well and their goalkeeper Edgar Badia made a number of super saves.
Badia parried a Lionel Messi free-kick in the first half and also denied further efforts from Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati.
Fati, making his first appearance under Koeman after injury, also headed just wide in the second half and was penalised for a handball after winning a 50-50 ball with the Elche goalkeeper.
Later, Miralem Pjanic came on to make his Barcelona debut in a triple change which also saw Ousmane Dembele and Francisco Trincao introduced.
Dembele came close on a couple of occasions, but saw one shot saved by Badia and another fly well wide, while Trincao was also denied by an inspired stop from the Elche goalkeeper after latching onto a Coutinho through-ball.
Elche barely threatened in the second half, but Bri found himself totally unmarked with nine minutes left and Neto saved Barca’s blushes as he got down to make a fine save close to his right-hand post to keep his side in front.
There were further attempts from Messi and Pjanic in the closing stages, but Barca had to be content with a 1-0 win in Koeman’s first game in charge at Camp Nou, ahead of their LaLiga start against Villarreal next weekend.
Source: Evening Standard
BDST: 1142 HRS, SEP 20, 2020