Elche CF, Running Out of Games
Last weeks 3-1 score sent Elche CF down into the relegation zone, and this weeks efforts fell short of the mark, keeping the team there.
At the early Sunday afternoon kick off in Pamplona, Navarra, the Elche team were almost unrecognisable. The manager, Escribar, made 5 changes from the last match, most notably substituting Badia for Paulo Gazzaniga in goal. Perhaps he was saving some of his players for the additional midweek fixture, a decision which would prove to be pointless on this occasion. Maybe Escribar should have taken on board past scorelines, the two teams have faced each other 8 times, only 1 of which Elche has won.
The first part of the first half was spent with both sides finding their feet, but lacking precision in the final meters. The home side made their mark on the 37th minute, when their 3rd shot on target made it past Gazzaniga. The 24 year old Kike Barja, who has only ever played for Osauna, despite being marked by 2 Elche players managed to tap the ball over the line.
Escribar's half time team talk seemed to galvanise the Franjiverdes, and they made an initial impression. Not enough to cause the Osasuna goalie to break a sweat, or even for that matter to move much, if at all! Elche's spirit was finally fully broken when they scored an own goal on the 67th minute. Diego Gonzalez in a copy cat of the earlier goal, unfortunately just tapped the ball over his own line, instead of sending it in the opposite direction. From then on Osasuna went defensive, creating a compacted wall and shutting down all attempts by Elches.
Two fixtures during the coming week, both of which are at home. One on Wednesday evening against Valladolid at 21:00, and another on Saturday at 14:00 against Valencia based Levante. Both teams are above relegation positioned Elche CF, for whom points are vital.
The fairy tale of remaining in La Liga is still, on paper, a possibility. But judging by the look on Escribars face during the match, he seems to have skipped to the final page and not found a happy ever after ending.
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