Elche 0 - 0 Athletic Bilbao

Match info: La Liga at Manuel Martinez Valero

Date: 25/03/2014 KO: 21:00 Ref: Eduardo Prieto Iglesias Att: 24,752

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers



Ath Bilbao

FT (ht: 0-0)

  • Last Updated: March 24 2014, 21:58 GMT

Elche coach Fran Escriba has called on the club's supporters to unite behind the team when they host Athletic Bilbao in a game that has taken on more significance after a poor run of recent results.

Escriba and Elche are back near the drop zone
Escriba and Elche are back near the drop zone

Defeats at Granada and Espanyol plus a goalless draw with Real Betis in their last home game have sent Escriba's side from a position of relative security in the Primera Division table back down towards the relegation zone - just three points above 18th-placed Real Valladolid.

The coach has recognised the urgency of the situation, and appealed to the fans to help the players however they can.

"If we want to be in this league next year, we have to all suffer together for the whole 90 minutes," he said at a press conference.

"I believe we will get out of this, although I'll admit I'm a little worried because it's all getting tighter near the bottom. We are optimistic because we've started competing well again on the pitch."

Domingo Cisma and David Lomban are expected to return from injury to face Athletic, but, if the latter does not, Escriba insists he will be happy to give 20-year-old academy player Charlie I'Anson a second consecutive start, after the English centre-back completed 90 minutes against Granada.

"There'll be no problem, because he knows how to compete at this level," the coach said.

One player certain to be out is Cristian Sapunaru, suspended due to getting sent off against Granada, but defender Alberto Botia and midfielder Ruben Perez return from their respective bans.

Athletic, meanwhile, will be without captain Carlos Gurpegi, the defender ruled out for three weeks with a knee injury, but welcome back top scorer Aritz Aduriz, who missed the 1-0 win over Getafe through suspension.

Athletic failed to win either of their last two away games and coach Ernesto Valverde is not expecting an easy match against Elche, who have not conceded in their last five home matches.

"They have turned into a very strong team at home and the top teams have either struggled to win there or haven't been able to," Valverde said.

"They are a very organised team and built on defensive consistency, although they have players that move forward with a lot of confidence. It's a difficult game and a very important one."

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