Unless manager Pablo Machin can quickly find a winning formula starting with Friday night’s match up with Celta Vigo, Liga Santander basement club Elche are in danger of breaking the record for least points ever registered in Spain’s top flight. Los Franjiverdes, as they are fondly called, are the only team in Europe’s top five divisions that is yet to win a league match. The Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero based side only has four points from 15 outings in Spanish Primera Liga.
Elche have been at sixes and sevens all season, with their latest setback coming midweek when they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey – Spain’s equivalent of the FA Cup by lower division Ceuta. If they continue with on their current negative trajectory, the Green Striped Ones won’t be able to beat the unwanted record of 13 points that was recorded by Sporting Gijon in 1997/98.
Valencia host second from bottom Cadiz in Friday night’s late game before record champions Real Madrid travel to unpredictable Villarreal in Saturday’s early kick off buoyed by Wednesday’s cup victory over lowly Cacereno. Talismanic skipper Karim Benzema was rested for that game but should return to lead the line as he aims to build on his two goal salvo in Los Blancos’ 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid last weekend.
Xavi Hernandez is seeking the right striking combination after Catalan giants Barcelona lost outright leadership of Liga Santander following their tempestuous one-all draw with local rivals Espanyol last week and needed extra time to prevail 4-3 over Intercity midweek. The goals have dried up for striking lynchpin Robert Lewandowski, with the supporting cast of Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Ferran Torres now expected to share Blaugrana’s goal scoring burden.
Atletico Madrid have been blowing hot and cold all season but will provide a litmus test to a Barca side that only leads Liga Santander on goal difference. Wanda Metropolitano boss Diego Simeone has loaned out Brazilian striker Matheus Cunha to Wolverhampton Wanderers in England but in Antoine Greizmann, Yannick Carrasco, João Felix and Angel Correa he still has formidable firepower at his disposal.
Elche v Celta Vigo,
Valencia v Cadiz
Villarreal v Real Madrid,
Real Mallorca v Real Valladolid,
Espanyol v Girona
Almeria v Real Sociedad,
Rayo Vallecano v Real Betis,
Sevilla v Getafe,
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
Athletic Bilbao v Osasuna