MX23RW : Friday, February 26 04:49:45| >> :120:29902:29902:
Jan 24, 2021 at 3.15pm UK at Martinez Valero
ElcheElche
0-2
BarcelonaBarcelona
FT(HT: 0-1)
de Jong (39'), Puig (89')
Busquets (68'), Griezmann (84')

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

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

Barcelona will be looking to make it four La Liga victories in a row when they continue their 2020-21 campaign away to struggling Elche on Sunday afternoon.

The Catalan giants have won their last four in the league to move into third position in the table, but Elche have not been victorious since the end of October, which has seen them drop into the relegation zone.


Match preview

Elche's Fidel celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates against Real Madrid on December 30, 2020© Reuters

Elche's recent form is concerning, with the promoted club failing to win in Spain's top flight since October 23 - a run of 12 matches without a victory which has left them in 18th position in the table.

Jorge Almiron's side have only actually lost six of their 17 league games this season, though, and the fact that they have two games in hand over the teams around them means that their position is slightly false.

Elche held Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw at the end of December, but it has not been a successful January for the club, losing to Athletic Bilbao and Getafe before drawing 2-2 with Real Valladolid on Tuesday night.

Los Franjiverdes were also knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Rayo Vallecano on January 16, while their recent record against Barca is a concern, losing 6-0 and 3-0 in their last two clashes with the Catalan giants.

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman pictured on January 17, 2021© Reuters

Barca have certainly had their problems this season, but the 26-time Spanish champions are currently in strong form in La Liga, winning each of their last three, while they have not lost in Spain's top flight since the start of December.

A record of 10 wins, four draws and four defeats from 18 matches has seen Ronald Koeman's side collect 34 points, which has left them just three points behind second-placed Real Madrid on the same number of games.

Barca are 10 points behind leaders Atletico, though, and Diego Simeone's side also have a game in hand, showing the capital outfit's strength at the summit heading into the second half of the season.

All Koeman's team can do is keep winning and see where that takes them, and they will also enter this weekend's contest off the back of a 2-0 success over Cornella in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Blaugrana were unable to lift the Spanish Super Cup last weekend, though, as they suffered a 3-2 defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the final of the competition, with Lionel Messi picking up a red card, which has made him unavailable for Sunday's contest at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.

Elche La Liga form: LDDLLD
Elche form (all competitions): DLWLLD

Barcelona La Liga form: DWDWWW
Barcelona form (all competitions): WWWWLW


Team News

Barcelona's Lionel Messi pictured on January 17, 2021© Reuters

Ivan Marcone was suspended for Elche's 2-2 drawn with Valladolid on Tuesday night, but the midfielder is available for this weekend's contest and should return to the starting XI.

The home side still have a number of injury problems, though, with Luismi, Dani Calvo, Omenuke Mfulu, Guido Carrillo and Fidel all unavailable for selection against the Catalan giants.

There are not expected to be many surprises in Elche's XI, with Lucas Boye again set to lead the line, but Diego Gonzalez is pushing for a spot in the side, which could see Antonio Barragan switch to a wing-back role.

As for Barca, an appeal against Messi's two-game suspension has been dismissed, meaning that the Argentine, who was sent off against Athletic in the Spanish Super Cup, is banned for this match.

Sergino Dest is also a huge doubt with a thigh problem, while Philippe Coutinho, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati remain unavailable for selection this weekend.

Oscar Mingueza is set for another start at right-back, while Messi's absence could open the door for Martin Braithwaite to feature alongside Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in the final third of the field.

Elche possible starting lineup:
Badia; Verdu, Gonzalez, Josema; Barragan, Marcone, Guti, Mojica; Rigoni, Boye, Josan

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, De Jong; Griezmann, Pedri, Dembele; Braithwaite


SM words green background

We say: Elche 1-2 Barcelona

Elche are certainly capable of making it difficult for a Barca side that have struggled to show consistency this season. Messi's absence is a huge boost for the home team, but we are expecting the Catalan giants to collect all three points courtesy of a narrow success.


Top betting 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


ID:431634:cQx:QQ:

How you voted: Elche vs Barcelona

Elche
7.8%
Draw
17.2%
Barcelona
75.0%
128
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Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman pictured on January 9, 2021
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European roundup: Barcelona edge past Cornella in Copa del Rey
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Atletico MadridAtletico23174245162955
2Real Madrid24164442192352
3Barcelona24155453223150
4Sevilla23153534161848
5Real Sociedad24118541202141
6Villarreal2481333325837
7Real Betis24113103238-636
8Levante2471073433131
9Granada2486102941-1230
10Athletic Bilbao2385103327629
11Celta Vigo247892936-729
12Valencia246993032-227
13Osasuna2467112233-1125
14CadizCadiz2467112140-1925
15Getafe2466121730-1324
16AlavesAlaves2457122038-1822
17ElcheElche2349102034-1421
18EibarEibar2449111927-821
19Real Valladolid2449112235-1321
20Huesca24310112135-1419

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