The truth about Elche CF

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After matches in Munich and Pamplona, ​​FC Barcelona return to Camp Nou on Saturday at 6.30 p.m. CET. The opponents are Elche, and here is a quick reminder of the basics on the greens and whites.

Where do they come from?

Elche is a town of around 250,000 inhabitants located in the south of the Valencian Community, although it is effectively contiguous with the coastal town of Alicante, forming an agglomeration of about 800,000 inhabitants. It is particularly known for its association with the shoe industry and for its impressive palm groves.

The club

Elche Club of Fútbol was founded in 1923 when a number of small clubs merged to form a large one to represent the city. The club’s heyday dates back to the 1960s and 1970s, when they were regulars in La Liga, finishing fifth and reaching the cup final in 1969.

They have never managed to repeat that success, appearing only very occasionally in La Liga since then and never managing to stay there for long. The club have also been troubled by a series of financial crises, including one that saw them relegated from La Liga in 2015 when they were 13.e 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 by mixing it up with the greats.

This season

Elche hasn’t managed to make anything too special this season, winning just three of his first 17 games (against Getafe, Celta and Cadiz). They are currently in 16e up and just two points from the relegation zone.

Face-to-face

You have to go back to 1974 to find the last time Elche managed to beat Barca, when Rinus Michels was on the Blaugrana bench and Johan Cruyff was still playing.

Moreover, in their last ten league games against Barca, dating back to 1984, Elche has not scored a single goal, which is the Catalans’ longest run without conceding a goal against the same team.

The Catalans also beat them 9-0 overall in the Copa del Rey in 2015 and 1-0 in this season’s Gamper Trophy game, making 13 consecutive clean sheets in total!

Elche has made 22 league appearances at Camp Nou over the years and has never won. It’s another record. No team has played more matches at the stadium without recording a single victory.

Last five meetings
02/24/21 (LIGA) FC Barcelona 3 Elche 0 (Messi 2, Alba)
01/24/21 (LIGA) Elche 0 FC Barcelona 2 (De Jong, Puig)
09/19/20 (GAMPER) FC Barcelona 1 (Griezmann) Elche 0
01/24/15 (LIGA) Elche 0 FC Barcelona 6 (Pique, Messi 2, Neymar 2, Pedro)
01/15/15 (COPA) Elche 0 FC Barcelona 4 (Mathieu, S Roberto, Pedro, Adriano)

The players

International caps
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)

Relations with Barça
Midfielder Gerard Gumbau was at Barca B from 2014 to 2017, but played up to nine times for the first team in different match categories. In fact (pictured below) he made his senior debut for the club in a game against Elche.

He went on to have decent stays at Leganés and at the club where he started, Girona, before joining Elche last summer.

Top scorer 2021/22
Lucas Boyé (5). The Argentinian striker is just two goals behind Jonathas (14) headed as Elche’s top scorer in the 21 premier divisionst century. He is one of the seven players who have scored the most goals this season without giving a single assist.

The boss

Francisco Javier Rodríguez Vílchez, better known simply as Francois, replaced the sacked Fran Escribá last month. Better known as a player of his time in Almeria, he went on to lead his home club after his retirement. Since then his posts have included Cordoba, Huesca and Girona.

Three games into his tenure, he has so far achieved a 1.1 draw against Elche, a 3-1 loss to Cadiz and last week’s 2-1 loss in Valencia, as well as guiding the team through the first two rounds of the Copa del Rey (against lower league Leioa and Unionistas).


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