Barcelona will be hoping they can keep their place in La Liga’s top four when they travel to Elche on Sunday (3:15pm kick-off).
After a stuttering start to the season the Blaugrana have pulled themselves up to third, three points behind second-placed Real Madrid.
Where to watch Elche vs Barcelona on TV:
- UK: LaLigaTV
- US: beIN Sports
How to live stream Elche vs Barcelona online:
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Scoreline prediction: Elche 0-2 Barcelona
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Elche vs Barcelona build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Elche are back in the top flight for the first time since 2015, when they were demoted due to financial reasons and then tasted further relegation to the third tier in 2017. They overcame that to get back to La Liga in three years but it hasn’t been a happy return.
Jorge Almiron’s men are currently occupying the final relegation place with 17 points won from their opening 17 games, though their fate is far from sealed. Elche are just a point behind 17th-placed Alaves with two games in hand over most of the teams around them, and as many in three on Real Valladolid. However, they will need to overcome their poor form, without a win in 12.
At the start of 2021, Barcelona were as low as seventh in La Liga and some fans were already calling Koeman’s head. However, three consecutive league wins have seen Barcelona rise up to third, level on points with fourth-placed Villarreal but with two games in hand.
But it has been two weeks since Barcelona’s last La Liga match, turning their attentions to cup competitions. In the Spanish Super Cup, they beat Real Sociedad on penalties but went on to lose the final to Athletic Bilbao, and saw Lionel Messi sent off in the latter. They then required extra time to beat third-tier UE Cornella in the Copa del Rey in midweek, albeit with a slightly weaker side.
- Elche (vs Real Valladolid): Badia; Josan, Josema, Verdu, Barragan, Mojica; Rigoni, Guti, Milla; Alamo; Boye.
- Barcelona (vs UE Cornella): Neto; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Firpo; Puig, Pjanic, Moriba; Trincao, Braithwaite, Griezmann.
Barcelona lost their appeal for Lionel Messi’s red card, so the Argentinian will serve the final match of his two-game suspension here against Elche. Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique and Philippe Coutinho all remain out for Barcelona through injury. Meanwhile, Fidel is out for Elche but Ivan Marcone is back following suspension.
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Players to watch:
- Elche: The hosts aren’t likely to trouble Barcelona with the second-worst attack in La Liga (scoring just 16 goals), so there could be a reliance on Edgar Badia to keep Elche in the game. The 28-year-old goalkeeper has made 57 saves in La Liga so far this season, bettered only by Valencia’s Jaume Domenech (67). Understandably with Elche near the bottom of the table, their defence and goalkeeper are going to be tested more than others, but Badia has a decent record against the shots he has faced. The Spaniard has a save percentage of 71.25, a respectable amount only bettered by five among those to have made at least 20 saves.
- Barcelona: With Messi out, the attacking impetus will fall on Antoine Griezmann to inspire Barcelona to victory. Griezmann has endured a pretty frustrating time at Barcelona since his move from Atletico Madrid, but he has been in decent form going into this game. The French forward has scored four goals in his past four games across all competitions, with braces against Granada in the league and Bilbao in the Super Cup. And he has a good record against Elche, with four goals in three appearances (for Real Sociedad and Atletico).
La Liga 2020/21 recent form:
- Elche: DLLDD
- Barcelona: WWWDW
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