Domingo Cisma slides the ball past Murcia's Tete.

Elche 1 Real Murcia 0
The last pre-season friendly for Elche before the real thing next weekend ended in a poor result, a 1 – 0 win from a penalty by last season’s top scorer Coro. The Illicitanos dominated the match and had numerous opportunities to score against a team now two leagues and a chasm of class between them.

The game was played at Pinater in a good spirit in front of only 3,000 fans, hopefully many more will be at the Martinez Valero in two weeks’ time when Elche begin their home campaign against mighty Real Sociedad, although the Franjiverdes first match back in La Liga after 24 years is away at Rayo Vallecano in Madrid on Monday 19th August.

In the first half Coro had a volley saved from a Fidel cross, with new striker Manu del Moral hitting a cross shot wide. Murcia had little to offer but Saul did manage two efforts, the second pushed over by the relatively-untroubled Manu Herrera in Elche’s goal.

The usual substitutes came on and off as Elche coach Fran Escriba gave as many players a run out as possible, and seemed to succeed although against poor opposition more goals should have been scored to give the team confidence.

With a spate of internationals this week just before the big kick-off this seems a crazy time for football, and directly affects Elche. The Franjiverdes have managed to secure the services of the Columbian midfielder Carlos Sanchez for three seasons, but he has been summoned back to play in a game for his country against Serbia in midweek, fortunately in Barcelona and will hopefully return to play against Rayo.

This same situation occurs with Elche’s new midfielder the Bosnian Miroslav Stevanovic who is also required to play for his country against the United States in Sarajevo. On the good news front Elche have signed the international Panamanian midfielder Jairo Jimenez from Chorillo and who has played seven times for his country.

Elche are still pursuing the big Ghanian striker Richard Boakye who is currently at Juventus but interested in playing in Spain’s La Liga. He has just returned from the Italian club’s US tour and is looking to make his decisions this week, hopefully in time for the new season. The direction of Elche’s Dutch striker Bery Powel, who is on the transfer list is unclear, though interest has been shown by Deportivo, Girona and Murcia.

So the first team situation at Elche is far from settled with only a week to go until the first match: but transfers and signing new players is a complicated affair today. The on-off transfer situations of both top UK and Spanish clubs are far from conclusive and with the first matches next weekend there can be few clubs who know their exact starting line-ups. Elche are a particular example, but no different to Real Madrid (Gareth Bale?), Manchester United (Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas?) and of course the farcical Liverpool and Luis Suarez situation.

Are Elche’s early opponents in La Liga as unsettled? Hopefully the Illicitanos have shaken off their unpleasant habit of several years ago where they lost their first half-dozen matches, were rock-bottom of the league, fired their manager and had to play catch up all season: not good…Elche coach Fran Escriba has shown his considerable abilities in getting the Franjiverdes back up to La Liga at last. Let’s hope this season he can now manage the unbelievably difficult job of keeping them there, a hugely formidable task in itself – but it can be done!

Mucho Elche!

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