PREVIEW: Elche v Barça

PREVIEW: Elche v Barça

After the Super Cup and Copa del Rey, now it's back to La Liga for yet another road trip, this time for a 4.15pm CET kick-off

Coming into the New Year, it was rather worrying that not only were Barça in an uncharacteristically lowly position in the league table, but due to the quirks of the rearranged fixture list had also played proportionately more home games than anyone else.

That balance has been set straight by four road trips in a row, but even better Barça have won the first three, in Huesca, Bilbao and Granada, and could now make it four out of four as they visit Elche, a side that is third from bottom in the table and that hasn’t won for twelve games.

In contrast, Barça’s winning streak has seen them fly up the table to third. They are still ten points adrift of leaders Atlético Madrid, who won a rearranged fixture at Eibar midweek and but still have one game in hand, but the situation is looking a lot healthier than it did at Christmas.

How to watch the game

The game is an early kick-off, at 4.15pm local time, while this guide should help you work out what time that is where you are, and which broadcasters are screening the action.

Previous Meetings

Barça and Elche already met earlier this season in the Joan Gamper Trophy, which ended in a 1-0 win for the Catalans with the only goal coming courtesy of Antoine Griezmann

It's six years since the teams met in a competitive encounter, a massive 6-0 win the Culers. 

Messi suspended

The football has been looking lovely too, and Leo Messi has moved into top gear with braces in the last two league games to go into this weekend top of the Liga goalscoring charts. But the Argentinian will be sorely missed on Sunday. After being red-carded in the final moments of the Spanish Super Cup Final against Athletic Club, he’s serving a suspension for this one.

Sergiño Dest is back in the squad after being given the medical all-clear, but Gerard Piqué, Philippe Coutinho, Sergio Roberto and Ansu Fati are all still out injured.

Elche, in turn, have very few injury concerns of their own.

Happening elsewhere

Sevilla, hopefully only temporarily, moved ahead of Barça with a 3-0 defeat of Cádiz on Saturday, but Villarreal missed the chance to do likewise when they were held 0-0 in Huesca.

Real Madrid will stay second after their 4-1 win at Alavés on Saturday, while leaders Atlético are away to Valencia in the 9.00pm CET kick-off.

The managers

Barça manager Ronald Koeman
“It’s understandable that the players are tired. This is our seventh away game in a row, with three extra time periods too. There’s been a lot of travel and games at 9 in the evening.”

“We really need to get the injured players back because the team needs fresh legs. Sergi Roberto trained with the team for the first time today. He needs more time but he’ll be back in the squad soon.”

“Dest looks like he’s recovered, but I haven’t decided whether we can start him or not. He’s still very young, it’s his first season and we don’t him to get any further injuries. He needs to have playing time to get into the right rhythm.”

“Penalties are an issue because we have had 12 this season and missed seven. Leo is the number one taker, but we need other people for when he’s not there. We practiced penalties yesterday and again today, although it’s different when there’s no pressure on you.

Elche manager Jorge Almirón
“Without Messi, Barça play a more structured game but are missing the magic of the best player in the world. They’re a different team without him and they’ve been playing a lot of games and have players missing through injury. So if we are clever, and concentrate hard, we have a chance.”

“We need to go at them like we did against Real Madrid. Barça are good at moving the ball around but they leave a lot of open space and we have quick players who can take advantage of that.”

“Most of our injured players are back. Fidel and Guido Carrillo are the only ones who can’t play.”

Força Barça
Força Barça

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