Sports Mole previews Saturday’s La Liga clash between Elche and Levante, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Levante will continue their search for a first league win of the season on Saturday, when they make the trip to take on Elche.
The hosts collected their first three-point haul of the season last time out to climb to 10th spot in the La Liga table, while Paco Lopez‘s men have earned just three points from their opening four games.
After narrowly avoiding the drop last season thanks to a victory on the final day, Elche were handed an unenviable schedule to start the new La Liga campaign, but they managed to earn a commendable point against Athletic Bilbao on the opening day as the game ended goalless .
Fran Escriba‘s men were then only narrowly beaten 1-0 away at defending champions Atletico Madrid, before they bounced back with an impressive 1-1 draw against Sevilla, who finished fourth last season.
Enzo Roco gave Los Franjiverdes an early lead, before Youssef En-Nesyri levelled the scores in the 40th minute, and Escriba’s side were able to hold on for a credible point on home turf.
After an impressive start against difficult opposition, Elche faced another tough test as they traveled to take on Getafe last time out, and they managed to put their first win on the board as Lucas Perez netted the only goal of the game with 20 minutes to go to see them leave with all three points.
Following their strong start to the new campaign, Los Franjiverdes will be keen to continue building momentum to ensure they remain far more comfortable than last season.
They welcome a Levante side who have been somewhat underwhelming so far, and will be desperate to kickstart their season on Saturday.
Paco Lopez’s side traveled to take on Cadiz on the opening day, and they looked set to see out a 1-0 victory thanks to Jose Luis Morales‘s goal, only for Alfonso Espino to net a 97th-minute equalizer to salvage a point for the hosts.
Following that disappointment, the Granotas earned a far more commendable point, playing out a dramatic 3-3 draw with title-chasing Real Madrid, as Vinicius Junior netted his second goal of the game to salvage a point in the dying minutes for Los Blancos after Roger Marti, Jose Campana and Rober Pier all got on the scoresheet for Levante.
Despite that positive result potentially providing a platform for them to build on, Lopez’s men were unable to capitalize, as they fell to a 1-0 away defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad, before earning their third point of the season last time out against Rayo Vallecano.
Levante were the victims of late drama for the second time this season, as Sergi Guardiola salvaged a point for the newly-promoted side with a 92nd-minute winner after Roger Marti looked to have fired the Granotas to a vital 1-0 win.
Currently sitting in 14th place having failed to win so far this season, Lopez will be desperate to see his side put a three-point haul on the board on Saturday after the recent disappointment and their slow start.
Elche La Liga form:
Levante La Liga form:
Elche will be without Pedro Bigas through a long-term injury, while Lucas Boye and Jony Alamo are both doubts.
In the absence of Boye, Lucas Perez and Dario Benedetto should lead the line, with the support of Fidel and Omar Mascarell from midfield.
Bigas played a key role in Elche’s tight defensive record so far this season, and Enzo Roco will likely deputise alongside Gonzalo and Diego Gonzalez in a back three, shielding former Real Madrid stopper Kiko Casilla between the sticks.
Levante have a long list of injuries to deal with, as experienced forward Roberto Soldado will continue to miss out alongside key attackers Jorge de Frutos and Enis Bardhi.
Jose Campana recently joined several of his teammates in the treatment room, further worsening Lopez’s options in the midfield and attacking lines.
As a result, he will heavily rely on captain Jose Luis Morales and Roger Marti, with the pair having registered combined tallies of 25 goals and eight assists last season.
Elche possible starting lineup:
Casilla; Gonzalo, Gonzalez, Roco; Josan, Fidel, Guti, Mascarell, Mojica; Perez, Benedetto
Levante possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Miramon, Vezo, Duarte, Clerc; Melero, Radoja, Martinez; Cantero, Marti, Morales
We say: Elche 2-1 Levante
While Levante arguably boast the stronger of the two squads, Las Granotas are yet to hit their stride this season, while their hosts have over performed against several of the league’s toughest sides, and we see those trends continuing on Saturday.
Marti and Morales form a threatening front line, but Escriba has built a solid back three this season that should be capable of dealing with the threat.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5: data