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Jan 6, 2022 at 7pm UK at Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos
1 - 2
Ramazani (42')
Robles (56'), Sousa (65'), Appiah (66'), Samu (68'), Centelles (83')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Piatti (52'), Guti (84')
Barragan (49'), Gonzalez (64'), Gonzalo (66'), Milla (68'), Josema (90')

Preview: Almeria vs. Elche - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Almeria vs. Elche - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Copa del Rey clash between Almeria and Elche, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

A team near the bottom of La Liga take on the team at the top of the Segunda Division as Elche travel to the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos to face Almeria in Copa del Rey action on Thursday evening.

The hosts hold top spot in the second tier despite losing their most recent game, whilst their upcoming opponents are just outside the La Liga relegation zone.

Match preview

Almeria came close to La Liga promotion for the first time since 2015 last season, finishing fourth in the second tier but then losing 3-0 on aggregate to Girona in the playoffs.

It would appear that they are determined to right those wrongs this campaign and are currently on course to earn automatic promotion and avoid the playoffs altogether.

A surprise 1-0 loss to Cartagena on Sunday allowed the trailing pack to close up a little, but they still have a three-point margin and a game in hand on second-placed Eibar.

After a scare in the first round of the Copa del Rey, when they required penalties to progress past fourth-tier Aguilas, order was restored in the second round with a 2-1 win against Amorebieta.

Manager Rubi will now be hopeful that his side can combine their league success with a cup run against a side struggling in the division they appear to be heading towards.

In the space of barely a minute during their pre-Christmas trip to Camp Nou, La Liga strugglers Elche managed to pull themselves back from two goals down against a youthful Barcelona side, raising hopes of a famous win, but it was not to be as Nico Gonzalez found the winner for the Catalan giants.

The other side of the winter break, Los Franjiverdes were able to end their losing streak, but only by the skin of their teeth as they hung on for a goalless draw after having been reduced to 10 men early in the second half against Granada.

In all, they won just three of their 19 games in the first half of the season, leaving them 17th in the table - separated from the relegation zone only by goal difference - and new head coach Francisco will be hoping for an improvement in the coming months.

Both Copa del Rey triumphs have come under the watchful eye of the former Girona boss - fifth-tier Leoia were comfortably dispatched 2-0, but third-tier Unionistas de Salamanca almost pulled off a surprise, with a 90th-minute own goal crucial for Elche.

They will likely have to produce more on Thursday against an opponent higher up the Spanish ladder and with plenty of momentum behind them.

Almeria Copa del Rey form:
  • W
  • W

Almeria form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L

Elche Copa del Rey form:
  • W
  • W

Elche form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Team News

Almeria will be without Daniel Carrico and most likely Dyego Sousa through injury, with the pair recovering from hamstring and knee issues respectively.

They will also have to deal without the services of Srdjan Babic through suspension and Umar Sadiq, who has been called up for international duty.

Elche, meanwhile, have been hit by a COVID-19 outbreak - whilst Gonzalo Verdu has now tested negative, Lucas Perez, Lucas Boye, Ivan Marcone and Dario Benedetto are amongst those who have been self-isolating.

Francisco will be hoping some may return negative tests in time for Thursday's game, but there is a strong chance he will have to field a severely depleted side once again.

Defenders Johan Mojica and Pedro Bigas were, at least, able to come back into the starting XI last time out after recovering from injury, but Diego Gonzalez will now have to serve a suspension for a red card picked up in the draw with Granada.

Almeria possible starting lineup:
Fernando; Pozo, De la Hoz, Martos, Centelles; Robertone, Robles; Portillo, Puigmal Martinez, Appiah; Lazo

Elche possible starting lineup:
Badia; Palacios, Bigas, Verdu, Mojica; Morente, Pastore, Mascarell, Fidel; Piatti, Carrillo

We say: Almeria 2-1 Elche

Even putting aside the two teams' recent form, it is actually Almeria who have the better record in this fixture in the last few years. Whilst Elche won the most recent encounter - after La Rojiblancos were reduced to 10 men - the remaining five of their last six meetings have ended in three wins for Almeria and two draws. We are backing the home side to make that four wins on Thursday.

Top tip

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

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