Barcelona are looking to continue their La Liga resurgence when they face Elche away from home on Sunday afternoon. The Catalan giants have a great record against their hosts this weekend, with Ronald Koeman hoping to keep that going here.
Where and when: Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero – 24 January, kick-off 15:15
Where you can see Elche vs. Barcelona: Premier Sports, Bet365 live streaming
Last time: These teams haven’t met in La Liga in exactly six years, since Barcelona hammered Elche 6-0 at the Estadio Martinez Valero on 24 January 2015.
Elche v Barcelona Predictions and Preview
Both Lionel Messi and Neymar bagged braces when Barcelona thrashed Elche in their most recent La Liga meeting. Only Messi remains these days, but the Argentine is a doubt for this game as he bids to spearhead the Blaugrana’s title challenge from a position of seemingly no hope.
Barca will be 13 points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid should Diego Simeone’s side win their games in hand. Real Madrid are only three points ahead of Barcelona heading into this weekend’s fixture though, giving the Blaugrana an initial target to overhaul.
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Barcelona to win to nil
Barcelona to win 1-0
Griezmann to score first
Koeman has survived an awful start at the Nou Camp to take his team on an eight-game unbeaten run in La Liga. Barca have won six of those, including a convincing 4-0 victory away top Granada last time out. However, the Catalans have suffered a surprise defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final since that game.
Messi’s red card in that tie for lashing out at Asier Villalibre has been deemed worthy of only a two-game ban, meaning he should miss this game. However, the Argentine will be available if Barcelona’s appeal is upheld. That appears unlikely though, with Messi a little fortunate to avoid a much lengthier suspension.
Instead, Barca will have to look to the likes of Antoine Griezmann for inspiration, with the French forward starting to finally look like he’s worthy of the famous shirt. With Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho both injured, and Messi likely to be banned, there’s plenty of pressure on Griezmann to perform here.
The away team are the clear favourites at 7/18 in this Elche v Barcelona preview, having never lost to Elche. Barca have won six of the seven meetings between the clubs in league and cup since Los Franjiverdes were first promoted to La Liga in 2014, including a 1-0 victory in the Trofeo Joan Gamper in September.
Elche are 8/1 for the win, which is something of a sign of Barcelona’s struggles this term. You might expect a team in the relegation zone and without a win in their last 12 La Liga fixtures would have longer odds than that, given this match will be played in an empty stadium which should further benefit the away team. Elche did draw seven of those 12 games though, with the stalemate here priced at 5/1.
One to watch for Elche: Fidel Chaves has scored two goals in his last three home games, including an equaliser which earned Los Ilicitanos a draw against champions Real Madrid. He is 14/1 to break the deadlock on Sunday.
One to watch for Barcelona: Antoine Griezmann scored the winning goal inside two minutes when these teams met four months ago, with the Frenchman priced at 10/3 to open the scoring once again in these Elche v Barcelona predictions.
Long shot: Elche have never scored a goal against Barcelona, who’ve rattled in 22 goals themselves in five La Liga and Copa del Rey victories over Los Franjiverdes, at an average of 4.4 per game. Barca are available at 18/1 to win this game 4-0, rising to 67/1 if you add Griezmann as the first scorer.