MX23RW : Friday, May 7 10:19:38| >> :120:70375:70375:
Apr 18, 2021 at 1pm UK at El Sadar
Barja (38'), Gonzalez (68' og.)
Vidal (45'), Sanchez (48')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Boye (8')

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

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

Fresh from a hugely impressive 2-1 success against Unai Emery's high-flying Villarreal, Osasuna return to familiar surroundings this weekend against 18th-placed Elche at the El Sadar Stadium on Sunday.

While the hosts took maximum points from their most recent outing, Elche's survival hopes took another damaging blow with a 3-1 defeat to fellow strugglers Huesca.

Match preview

Osasuna head coach Jagoba Arrasate pictured on January 9, 2021© Reuters

Osasuna put the ball in the back of the net three times against European contenders Villarreal last time out - although one of those was an own goal from David Garcia - but Jon Moncayola and Ante Budimir struck either side of their teammate's error in another stellar showing.

Jagoba Arrasate's side had endured a barren run of four games without a win before their visit to the Yellow Submarine - a run which included three consecutive goalless stalemates with Real Valladolid, Huesca and Getafe - so they will happily sacrifice their clean sheet streak for a crucial three points at this late stage.

Osasuna's triumph in gameweek 30 opened up an eight-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone, so while Arrasate's men are not entirely safe in 14th spot, a couple more wins would surely all but confirm their top-flight status for the 2021-22 campaign.

That will be easier said than done in remaining fixtures with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad, but the only goal for Arrasate this weekend will be to end a four-game winless streak at the El Sadar Stadium, during which time his side have failed to find the back of the net.

The hosts have never endured a five-game run on home soil without scoring, though, and not since February 2020 have they lost a La Liga game to a newly-promoted side, so this weekend could very well signal the end of the home hoodoo for Arrasate's improving crop.

Elche's Dani Calvo celebrates scoring their first goal with Cifu on March 13, 2021© Reuters

While Osasuna managed to snap their winless streak last time out, Elche could not replicate their upcoming opponents' feat, as a 3-1 defeat to Huesca made their survival task just that little bit harder on April 9.

Huesca's Denis Vavro turned into his own net just seconds after Rafa Mir had given his side the lead, but Sandro Ramirez notched up his side's second on the half-hour mark before Mir's second of the game condemned Elche to another dampening defeat on rival territory.

Fran Escriba had steered his side to two 1-1 draws with Getafe and Real Betis before gameweek 30, but defeat to Huesca - their seventh loss in eight La Liga matches away from home - means that they remain in the bottom three but within touching distance of 17th-placed Real Valladolid, who are only one point clear of the trapdoor.

All six relegation-threatened sides are realistically capable of propelling themselves to safety at this late stage - such is the congested nature of the bottom half of the table - and Elche will be grateful that closest rivals Alaves and Eibar are struggling for wins too.

However, Elche travel the El Sadar Stadium without an away clean sheet in La Liga since the turn of the year, and they have failed to beat Osasuna in their last seven attempts against them, with December's meeting ending in a 2-2 draw.

Osasuna La Liga form:
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • W

Elche La Liga form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L

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Team News

Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera in action against Real Madrid on January 9, 2021© Reuters

Osasuna regular Juan Cruz is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks as he recovers from a groin injury sustained in the win over Villarreal, meaning that Manu Sanchez is all but guaranteed a start at left-back.

Inigo Perez and Ruben Martinez are still training individually so will not be ready either, while Chimy Avila has enjoyed 13 minutes of football since returning from a cruciate ligament rupture a few weeks back.

The 27-year-old is unlikely to be considered for a start just yet, though, as Budimir and Jonathan Calleri seem set to lead the line against the relegation candidates.

Elche winger Fidel was cautioned for the fifth time this season against Huesca and will play no part against Osasuna, so Josan is expected to beat Emiliano Rigoni to the vacant right-midfield spot.

On the opposite flank, recent arrival Pablo Piatti remains doubtful through muscular discomfort, and Escriba lost both Antonio Barragan and Guido Carrillo to injuries during last weekend's defeat.

Barragan was hooked at half time but is not expected to be ruled out of this game, although Carrillo - who lasted just 12 minutes as a substitute - is more of a concern with a hamstring problem which could keep him sidelined until May.

Osasuna possible starting lineup:
Herrera; Vidal, Hernandez, D. Garcia, Sanchez; Barja, Brasanac, Moncayola, R. Garcia; Budimir, Calleri

Elche possible starting lineup:
Badia; Barragan, Verdu, Calvo, Mojica; Josan, Marcone, Guti, Morente; Boye, Milla

SM words green background

We say: Osasuna 1-0 Elche

Osasuna's penchant for clean sheets and recent upturn in fortunes should help them secure another stint in La Liga for the 2021-22 campaign, and a win here could all but confirm their top-flight status. Elche's losing habit away from home makes for bleak reading for their supporters, and with some fresh absentees to work around, we do not expect the visitors to take anything from this battle.

Top tip

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