Barcelona Vs Elche CF final LIVE Football Score 18 Dec 2021
Barcelona will be looking to return to winning ways in La Liga when they welcome lowly Elche to Camp Nou on Saturday night.Xavi’s side are currently eighth in Spain’s top flight, having picked up just 24 points from their opening 16 games of the season, while Elche sit 16th with only 15 points to show from their first 17 matches. Barcelona won their first two La Liga matches under Xavi’s management against Espanyol and Villarreal, but the Catalan giants have picked up just one point from their last two games, losing at home to Real Betis on December 4 before being held to a 2-2 draw by Osasuna last weekend.
The La Liga outfit were also knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage last week, with the club instead dropping into the Europa League, where they have been paired with Italian side Napoli. Barcelona also took on Boca Juniors in the inaugural Diego Maradona Cup on Tuesday, with the Argentine side winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Saudi Arabia. Xavi’s team must now focus on returning to winning ways in the league, as a disappointing campaign to date has seen them collect just 24 points from 16 matches, with that total only enough for eighth position, five points off fourth-placed Atletico Madrid and 18 behind leaders Real Madrid.
Blaugrana are not going to challenge for the title this season but simply must finish in the top four in order to avoid more financial problems, and there is no downplaying the importance of this weekend’s contest. Elche, meanwhile, have won three, drawn six and lost eight of their 17 league games this season to collect 15 points, which has left them in 16th position in the table. Los Franjiverdes finished 17th last season on their return to this level of football, so it is not too much of a surprise to see them towards the bottom of the division heading towards the winter break.
Elche have been in impressive form since Francisco’s arrival as head coach at the end of November, though, winning three of their last four matches in all competitions, two of which have come in the Copa del Rey against Leioa and Unionistas de Salamanca.
The Green-striped ones recorded a 3-1 win over Cadiz in the league on December 5, meanwhile, but they were beaten 2-1 by Valencia at Mestalla in their last league match. Elche lost both league games against Barcelona last season, conceding five times and scoring zero, while the strugglers have only managed to record one away victory in La Liga this term.
Barcelona’s injury list remains substantial, with Sergino Dest, Memphis Depay, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Pedri, Ansu Fati and Martin Braithwaite all ruled out of this weekend’s contest, while Gerard Pique is suspended. Ousmane Dembele is also allegedly a doubt with the issue that he picked up against Osasuna, so Xavi has limited options when it comes to the forward positions.
Both Gavi and Abde Ezzalzouli are expected to feature in a front three, while there could be another start for on-loan Sevilla forward Luuk de Jong amid suggestions that the club will not play Yusuf Demir until February due a clause in his contract surrounding playing appearances.
Sergio Aguero, meanwhile, announced his retirement from professional football on Wednesday, with the Argentina international being forced to hang up his boots due to a heart problem.
As for Elche, Pedro Bigas remains on the sidelines with a groin issue, but the visitors are otherwise in good shape heading into this weekend’s contest.
Lucas Boye and Lucas Perez played as a front two against Valencia last weekend and that is again expected to be the case at Camp Nou, with Tete Morente and Fidel operating in the wide areas. Omar Mascarell, Diego Gonzalez and Edgar Badia will also be among those to return to the side, with Francisco making changes for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey clash with Unionistas de Salamanca.