A lost Barça receives a reborn Elche

A lost Barça receives a reborn Elche

BARCELONA, Dec. 17 (.) –

FC Barcelona receives Elche CF this Saturday on matchday 18 of LaLiga Santander, a new challenge for a lost Barça that does not refine despite the certain improvement in the game since the arrival of Xavi Hernández and in which he will have as a rival, in a Camp Nou that is going through many penalties, to an Elche in need of points but reborn after the arrival of Francisco.

Xavi arrived recognizing that the team had emergencies, and these are still the same or worse. Not even the arrival of Elche, a team from the lower part of the table, is a respite right now since the fear of losing more points is still there. It will be the last game of the year at the Camp Nou and, from the outset, the previous one is not quiet at all.

According to the Blaugrana coach, you must continue to be positive and it is a good time to take a step forward. A step that seeks and pursues him but has not yet arrived. Without going any further, on the last day, the team did not know how to secure the victory they had in their hands at El Sadar.

Chimy Ávila’s goal in the 86th minute took two points from the Blaugranas. Another two more points to leave the team 18 points behind the leader Real Madrid. And the previous day, Real Betis stormed the Camp Nou (0-1). Now, another team dressed in white and green pretends to repeat the story.

Barça needs a victory. Everything that is not winning, everything that Elche comes out happy and having fished at the Camp Nou, will already be a catastrophic misfortune for a Barça that, although LaLiga Santander is already lost no matter what, needs to change the game courage to face the Copa del Rey and that Europa League that, being the ‘stage B’, can be a reason for joy.

In a week in which Kun Agüero announced his retirement definitively due to his heart problems, the team needs that ‘high’ that the three points would give them. There are better feelings than with Ronald Koeman, perhaps. There is something more than goal, despite losing strikers through injury without stopping. But the results do not arrive, those emergencies in points are still more alive.

If Abde or Ilias continue to contribute as much from the extreme as they have in their first games with the first team, if Nico continues to act as the head of the midfield dressing as Sergio Busquets despite having him close. If Frenkie De Jong or Ousmane Dembélé – who is ready to play – take that step forward that is required of them, Barça could take that step that Xavi demands. For now, still without Memphis Depay, it remains to be seen if Luuk De Jong is the bet or if there will be a ‘false 9’. Because there are no more pure forwards.


The ‘Argentinized’ Elche is looking at the Camp Nou for the trigger that takes him away from the lower zone. The abrupt march of Fran Escribá has given way to ‘rebirth’ with the defeat (3-1) of Cádiz and the double classification takes place until the sixteenth with Francisco on the bench for the franjiverdes.

Only the blur of the last defeat (2-1) against Valencia, with a controversial ‘phantom goal’ not scored that would have been the equalizer, has stopped the ‘Francisco effect’ in an Elche that hopes to surprise the efficiency of its top scorer, a Lucas Boyé who has before him a showcase to multiply his price.

Former Spanish player Kiko Casilla, injured in the Cup, will not be able to emulate past derbies. Neither will defender Pedro Bigas nor Argentine striker Darío ‘Pipa’ Benedetto, a shareholder of Elche along with his compatriot and representative Christian Bragarnik, although the Colombian international Johan Mojica will.

The rides by Mojica’s own band, or the verticality of Fidel or Tete Morente, and the success of ‘los Lucas’, Pérez and Boyé, seem key to breaking the curse in the Blaugrana fiefdom: Elche accumulates 46 years without scoring – the last time, in the 1974-75 season with a goalless draw (0-0) – and 43 without scoring a goal – in 1977-78, 5-1 against.

In the last precedent, Escribá’s then pupils yielded 3-0, although at that time Leo Messi was playing, author of two of the three goals, whose departure to PSG has left a deep hole in Barça. However, Francisco warned of his key to breaking the spell: “We have to face Barcelona as if they were the best in history.”



FC BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; Dest, Piqué, Eric Garcia, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Nico, Gavi; Abde, Luuk De Jong and Dembélé.

ELCHE: Édgar Badía; Palacios, Enzo Roco, Diego González, Mojica; Marcone, Mascarell, Fidel; Tete Morente, Lucas Pérez and Boyé.

–ARBITRATOR: Alberola Rojas (C. Castellano-Manchego).

–STADIUM: Camp Nou.

–TIME: 6:30 p.m. / Movistar LaLiga.

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