Home » Preview: Elche vs. Barcelona – prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Elche vs. Barcelona – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s La Liga clash between Elche and Barcelona, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Barcelona will be looking to open up a 15-point lead at the top of the La Liga table when they travel to bottom-of-the-division Elche on Saturday night.

The visitors entered the international break off the back of a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid at Camp Nou, while Elche suffered a 2-0 defeat at Real Sociedad, which left them rock bottom on 13 points.

Match preview

© Reuters

Unless something extraordinary happens over the next couple of months, Elche will be playing Segunda Division football during the 2023-24 campaign.

Indeed, a record of two wins, seven draws and 17 defeats from 26 matches has seen the strugglers collect just 13 points, which has left them rooted to the bottom of the table entering the final straight.

Elche are 14 points behind 17th-placed Espanyol, so while it is not impossible to stay in the league, it is very difficult to imagine the team picking up the points required to complete what would be a great escape.

Los Franjiverdes are in their third straight campaign at this level of football, which is actually their best run in Spain’s top flight since the late 1970s, while a recent revival saw them collect four points from matches against Mallorca and Real Valladolid towards the start of March.

Elche suffered a 2-0 defeat at Real Sociedad before the international break, though, which proved to be Pablo Machin‘s last game as head coach, with Sebastian Beccacece now in charge; the 42-year-old has become the team’s fourth manager of the campaign, and this will be his first experience of coaching in Spain.

Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto celebrates scoring against Real Madrid on March 19, 2023© Reuters

Barcelona actually fell behind against Real Madrid last time out, with an own goal from Ronald Araujo sending the champions into the lead, but Sergi Roberto levelled the scores late in the first period, before Franck Kessie won it for Barcelona in the second minute of added time at the end of the 90.

The Clasico success moved Xavi‘s side 12 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid at the top of the table, and it is very difficult to imagine them relinquishing control of first position in the closing stages of the season.

Barcelona’s league form this season has been stunning – winning 22, drawing two and losing two of their 26 matches, scoring 49 times and conceding just nine; they have been comfortably the best team in Spain’s top flight this term and are well on course to win the title.

There has again been disappointment in Europe this season, exiting both the Champions League and Europa League, but the Catalan outfit won the Spanish Super Cup in January and are chasing more success in both La Liga and the Copa del Rey, where they are in the semi-finals.

Barcelona will host Real Madrid for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final next week, holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg at Bernabeu, so they are in a strong position to make the final.

Blaugrana have won each of their last seven La Liga games against Elche, including a 3-0 success when the two teams locked horns for the reverse match in the middle of September.

Elche La Liga form:

Barcelona La Liga form:

Barcelona form (all competitions):

Team News

Barcelona attacker Ousmane Dembele on January 8, 2023© Reuters

Elche will be missing both Pape Cheikh and Lucas Boye through suspension this weekend, while Lisandro Magallan, Enzo Roco, Alex Collado and John Donald are on the sidelines through injury.

The home side will be boosted by the return of Pere Milla, though, and the 30-year-old, who is the team’s leading goalscorer in the league this season with six, will operate in the final third of the field.

Ezequiel Ponce could be given the nod over Randy Nteka to start alongside Milla, while Gerard Gumbau is preparing to take on the club that he left in 2016.

Barcelona, meanwhile, will again be missing Pedri and Ousmane Dembele due to hamstring problems, with the duo not expected to return for another three weeks or so.

Andreas Christensen is also missing due to the calf problem that he picked up while representing Denmark during the international break, while Frenkie de Jong is out with a hamstring issue.

Araujo has allegedly recovered from an adductor issue, but he is unlikely to be risked for this match ahead of El Clasico, so Eric Garcia and Marcos Alonso could both start at the back.

Raphinha will be absent due to a suspension, meanwhile, which could open the door for both Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati to feature alongside Robert Lewandowski in the final third of the field.

Elche possible starting lineup:
Badia; Morente, Palacios, Verdu, Gonzalez, Clerc; Fidel, Mascarell, Gumbau; Milla, Ponce

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Kounde, E Garcia, Alonso, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Gavi; F Torres, Lewandowski, Fati

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We say: Elche 0-2 Barcelona

Barcelona will be missing a number of important players for this match, but we are still finding it incredibly difficult to back against a victory for the division leaders. It might be tight in terms of the scoreline, but the Catalan outfit should have too much quality for the team at the bottom of the table.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Away Win:data

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