KEY POINTS

  • Barcelona defeated Elche 2-0 in La Liga Sunday
  • Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig netted goals for Barcelona
  • Barca are 10 points behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid

Ronald Koeman heaped praise on Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who made a crucial save in FC Barcelona’s fighting 2-0 victory against Elche Sunday, saying "luckily" the club has a goalkeeper of his quality.

Barcelona went 1-0 up against Elche, courtesy of Frenkie de Jong’s 39th-minute strike before ter Stegen denied Elche forward Emiliano Rigoni an equalizer at the start of the second half. The Catalans secured three vital points after Barcelona’s Riqui Puig netted his side’s second to finish the game 2-0. However, Koeman was quick to acknowledge his goalkeeper’s contribution in Barcelona’s victory.

"They didn't have chances - they only had one chance and it came from a big mistake from our defence. But Ter Stegen was very good in the one-on-one [chance]. Luckily we have a good goalkeeper because they could've equalized there. Defensively, apart from that mistake, we did well. The best thing about today was our pressing and our performance without the ball. We deserved to win," Koeman was quoted by Goal, as saying in a post-match interview.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen After two years of being on the bench for Barcelona in La Liga, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will get a chance to start against Athletic Bilbao. Photo: Getty Images

After Sunday’s win, Barcelona are now three points behind second-placed Real Madrid in the 2020-21 La Liga table, but leaders Atletico Madrid are seven points clear at the top.

"I'm very happy with how we won [the game]. We've had lots of matches in the last few days and we've kept focus. We were better than our opponents. We were patient. We won possession. It was difficult to score because they had lots of men behind the ball. But we pressed well," added Koeman in the interview.

Against Elche, Barcelona were without Lionel Messi, who was suspended, and the side played Ousmane Dembele, Martin Braithwaite and Antoine Griezmann in the front. However, Koeman insisted Barcelona need their midfielders to contribute with goals as well.

"The three forwards aren't enough; we need the midfielders to score too. It's good that he's [De Jong] scoring and assisting. He's improving. We want the midfielder to get into the box and get up there," added Koeman, who also said his side will challenge for the title but, "Atletico are still strong."