The lowdown on Elche CF

The lowdown on Elche CF

A closer look at Barça's next opponents, who are back in La Liga after a five-year absence

Following the Copa del Rey victory at Cornellà midweek, Barça return to Liga action on Sunday at 4.15pm CET with a trip to Elche. It's a side Barça have not met for a few years, so here's a reminder of what they are all about.

Where are they from?

Elche is a town of around a quarter of a million people in the south of the Valencian Community, although effectively it’s adjoined to the coastal city of Alicante, forming a conurbation of around 800,000 people. It’s particularly known for its association to the footwear industry and for its impressive palm groves.

The club

Elche Club de Futbol was founded in 1923 when a number of smaller clubs merged to found one big one to represent the town. The club’s heydays were in the 1960s and 1970s, when they were regulars in La Liga, finishing as high as fifth and reaching the cup final in 1969.

They have never managed to repeat that success, only very occasionally appearing in La Liga since and never managing to stay there long. The club has also been troubled by a series of financial crises, including one that saw them relegated from La Liga in 2015 despite being 13th in the table, their best finish for almost 40 years.

Last season they beat Girona in the promotion playoff to finally return to the highest level.

The stadium

For a relatively small club, Elche have a fabulous home ground, the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero, which holds 33,732 people. Opened in 1976 it was used for the 1982 World Cup, and it was here that Hungary beat El Salvador 10-1 in the biggest win in tournament history. It also hosted the Copa del Rey Final in 2003, when a Samuel Eto’o inspired Mallorca won the title for the first time.

Elche 0 - FC Barcelona 4

Enjoy the whole Copa del Rey game between Elche and FC Barcelona

This season

Following an impressive start, winning four of their first six games, Elche have failed win any of their next 12. They have become something of specialists in drawing games, including a 1-1 tie with Real Madrid a few weeks ago, but that has not been enough to keep them out of the relegation zone.

Their cup run also came to an end this month, losing to second division Rayo Vallecano, who will be facing FC Barcelona in the next round.

Head to head

In their last eight league games against Barça, dating back to 1984, Elche have not scored a single goal, and Barça also beat them 9-0 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey. We have to go all the way back to 1974 to find the last occasion Elche that managed to beat Barça.

The sides also met at this season's preseason Joan Gamper Trophy, in which Barça were also victorious (see video).

Last five meetings
19/09/20 (GAMPER) FC Barcelona 1 (Griezmann) Elche 0
24/01/15 (LIGA) Elche 0 FC Barcelona 6 (Piqué, Messi 2, Neymar 2, Pedro)
15/01/15 (COPA) Elche 0 FC Barcelona 4 (Mathieu, S Roberto, Pedro, Adriano)
08/01/15 (COPA) FC Barcelona 5 Elche 0 (Neymar 2, Suárez, Messi, Alba)
24/08/14 (LIGA) FC Barcelona 3 Elche 0 (Messi 2, Munir)

The players

International caps
Youssouf Koné (Mali, 17), Iván Marcone (Argentina, 1), Omenuke Mfulu (DR Congo, 1)

Barça connections
Víctor Rodríguez was at La Masia four years, playing in the same youth teams as Jordi Alba. Curiously, like the future first team full-back, he too was released for being too small. In 2019, he was MVP for his role in helping Seattle win the MLS Cup Final.

Top scorers 2020/21 (all competitions)
Fidel (4), Lucas Boyé (3), Tete Morente (2), Josan (2)

The boss

Jorge Almirón is from Argentina, although he spent his entire playing career in the Mexican Liga MX. He went on the manage a series of clubs, mainly in Mexico and back in his native Argentina, he greatest accomplishment being an Argentinian league title with Lanús in 2016. After a brief spell at Al-Shabab FC in Saudi Arabia, he was appointed by Elche last summer, his first ever experience of European football.

Força Barça
Força Barça

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