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After games in Munich and Pamplona, FC Barcelona are back at the Camp Nou on Saturday at 6.30pm CET. The opponents are Elche, and here’s a quick reminder of the essentials on the green-and-whites.
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.
Elche Club de Fútbol 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.
After five seasons in the second division, they returned for the 2020/21 season and narrowly escaped relegation to secure another season mixing it with the big boys.
Elche have not managed to do anything too special this season, winning just three of their first 17 games (against Getafe, Celta and Cádiz). They’re currently in 16th place and just two points clear of the relegation zone.
Head to head
We have to go all the way back to 1974 to find the last occasion Elche that managed to beat Barça, when Rinus Michels was on the blaugrana bench and Johan Cruyff was still playing.
What’s more, in their last ten league games against Barça, dating back to 1984, Elche have not scored a single goal, which is the Catalans’ longest ever run without conceding against the same team.
The Catalans also beat them 9-0 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey in 2015 and 1-0 in this season’s Gamper Trophy match, so that’s 13 consecutive clean sheets in total!
Elche have played 22 league games at Camp Nou over the years and have never won. That’s another record. No team has played more games at the stadium without registering a single victory.
Last five meetings
24/02/21 (LIGA) FC Barcelona 3 Elche 0 (Messi 2, Alba)
24/01/21 (LIGA) Elche 0 FC Barcelona 2 (De Jong, Puig)
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)
Javier Pastore (Argentina, 29), Enzo Roco (Chile, 28), Johan Mojica (Colombia, 16), Darío Benedetto (Argentina, 5), Helibelton Palacios (Colombia, 4), Kiko Casilla (Spain, 1), Pablo Piatti (Argentina, 1), Iván Marcone (Argentina, 1)
Midfielder Gerard Gumbau was at Barça B from 2014 to 2017, but did play as many as nine times for the first team in different categories of fixture. In fact (pictured below) he made his senior debut for the club in a game against Elche.
He then had decent spells at Leganés and the club where he started out, Girona, before joining Elche last summer.
Top scorer 2021/22
Lucas Boyé (5). The Argentinian striker is just two goals away from topping Jonathas (14) as Elche’s highest goalscorer in the first division of the 21st century. He is one of seven players that have scored the most goals this season without giving a single assist.
Francisco Javier Rodríguez Vílchez, better known simply as Francisco, replaced the sacked Fran Escribá last month. Best known as a player from his Almeria days, he then managed his hometown club after retiring. Since then, his positions have included Cordoba, Huesca and Girona.
Three games into his tenure he has so far achieved a 1.1 draw with Elche, a 3-1 defeat of Cádiz and last week’s 2-1 loss at Valencia, as well as guiding the team through the two earliest rounds of the Copa del Rey (against the lower league Leioa and Unionistas).
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