Elche CF, La Liga Wake Up Call
Elche CF return to La Liga after a 5 year absence following their miraculous promotion only weeks ago. Along with Barcelona and Sevilla, they were given a reprieve of 2 weeks, so played their first game of the season on Saturday.
The 3 week long pre season has been a whirlwind. The manager Pacheta, who had guided the team through 2 promotions during the last 3 seasons was asked to leave, as were a number of the players. The clubs major shareholder Christian Brafarnik, a very influential Argentinian football agent, was ready to bring in his preferred men, both on and off the pitch. First to join was Jorge Almiron a South American manager, an exciting addition until it was announced that his qualifications are not recognised in Spain, so he will have to sit in the stands until he has his Spanish equivalent. Cifu returned to the club in defence, and the club transfer record was smashed when the young 23 year old Guti who was signed for 4.5 million from Real Zaragoza.
Elche's first match kicked off at home in the Martinez Valero against Real Sociedad, last years Copa del Rey finalists (the winner is not yet known as the match is still to be played). Elche had a small squad of 17 players to choose from. Cifu, Guti and Morente made their debuts up front. The opposition were bound to be tough, they have spent the last 10 years in La Liga and they had their new signing, ex Man City David Silva.
From the whistle, Real Sociedad were in control which was reflected in the 35% to 65% possession ratio. The opposition peppered the goal of Edgar Badia, and his team mates did not help themselves as they passed the ball around the back line, often giving it away and immediately putting themselves under pressure. On 20 minutes Elche had a golden chance to snatch a shock lead, unfortunately Josan angled the shoot directly at the Sociedad goalie.
The half time score was 0-0, a good achievement. The pep talk was given to the team by Assistant Coach Jesus Munoz, as Jorge Almiron was confined to the stands.
The second half was a baptism of fire which highlighted Elche CF's lack of fitness, experience and time to bond as a team. At 55 minutes Portugues scored from an acute angle. At 77 minutes the referrer awarded a soft penalty, which was converted by Januzaj, an ex Man Utd player from 2011 to 2013. Then 4 minutes into extra time Lopez Alcaide flew down the right and smash the ball into the top corner past an exhausted Edgar. Final Score 0-3
Elche will travel to Eibar on Wednesday 30th, a must win game and the first opportunity for Elche to face the team which profited from their La Liga relegated in 2014 after they were found guilty of financial wrong doing.