Elche

Relegated Eibar gets new life in La Liga after Elche sent down for debt problems

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La Liga’s 13th place club from last season is being relegated.

Elche’s top-flight fortunes fell victim to its off-field struggles, as the Valencian club couldn’t pay its players and taxes. The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Elche’s appeals for mercy.

[ MORE: Tevez transferred for four Boca teens ]

It was the second year Elche failed to pay its taxes and staff debts.

That means Eibar will head back to La Liga despite being relegated as the league’s third-worst side last season. Eibar had the same amount of points as Deportivo de la Coruna and Granada, but lost out on head-to-head.

From the Associated Press:

The CAS upheld the previous decision by the league to relegate Elche due to its debts with Spain’s tax office and its own staff.

The Spanish league had in June ruled that Elche should descend given that it was the second consecutive year that the club had failed to pay its taxes. The club, based near Alicante, can still take its case through Spain’s regular courts.

Will “regular” court change anything? We doubt it.

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert on Sanchez: ‘He does the simple things really well’

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Carlos Sanchez, one of Columbia’s featured players in the 2014 World Cup, has signed a four-year deal with Aston Villa after the English club agreed on a £4 million transfer with the player’s former team, Elche CF.

Lions boss Paul Lambert has aimed to bolster his midfield this offseason, and when the Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea City didn’t end up moving to Villa Park, the 45-year-old looked elsewhere, Sanchez being their primary target.

Lambert believes that the defensive midfielder will bring physicality and a straightforward, effective approach to his squad’s play.

“He does the simple things really well and he’s excellent at spotting the danger, dealing with it and keeping it simple. His physical strength, too, is something we will benefit from in the middle of the pitch and his role will be a really important one for the team,” he said. “We’ve beaten other teams to bring him here to Villa and I’m delighted as we needed someone of his ilk to come in. He’ll be an excellent player for the club.”

Sanchez made 30 appearances for Elche in 2013-14, tallying zero goals, and his six-year stint with French side Valenciennes, where he scored ten goals in 178 appearances, highlighted his longest tenure at a specific team.

“I’m delighted to be here, it’s something I have always dreamed of and it is very important for me to be here at Aston Villa, not only for me but for my family as well,” he said to the club’s official website. “It was always my aim to play in this country and in this league and I know Villa well as Juan Pablo also played here. I began to watch Villa games when he came in 2001. He was a goal scorer who was very important to this club and I followed his time here because he was always scoring goals.”

The Columbian’s presence does, in fact, help Aston Villa control the pace of play. With striker Christian Benteke out of matches only until September, it makes sense that Villa would look to find a defensive-minded man: one who’s capable of slowing down advances, recognizing and closing openings during the opposing team’s attack. His skill set should allow for a fairly smooth transition to the Premier League, and he can certainly carry the Lions to a higher level.

Messi’s fit, but won’t play on Sunday

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Barcelona manager Tata Martino will not deploy Lionel Messi for Sunday’s league match against Elche, according to a report from the Associated Press.

After six weeks out of the lineup with a hamstring injury, the diminutive superstar is healthy — after all, he did score a “hat trick” in an open training session this week (VIDEO) — but:

Martino said, “from what I see (Messi) is excited to play, he is fit, with the eyes of a killer,” but he still “lacks playing time.”

The absence found Barca losing two of eight matches, but the Blaugrana can still pull even with Atletico Madrid — who won Saturday — atop the table with a win on Sunday. Real Madrid is five points behind Barcelona and eight behind Atletico, but can shrink those gaps on Sunday as well.

Victor Valdes and Xavi Hernandez will return to Barca’s lineup.

Gareth Bale suffers thigh strain, will miss at least one match

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After a visit to Sanitas Hospital in the La Moraleja suburb of Madrid, Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wednesday’s match at Elche CF, Real Madrid announced Monday.

Bale was a last-minute scratch from Madrid’s lineup before a 4-1 win over Getafe. He pulled up after taking a shot in the warm-up and was examined on the pitch by medical staff (pictured) before being taken out of the starting 11. Isco replaced Bale and scored in the 59th minute.

(MORE: Gareth Bale injured in Real Madrid warmups)

Bale’s absence against newly promoted Segunda División champion Elche might not pose much of a problem, but he would likely be missed on Saturday against Atlético Madrid. The derby has top-three implications as the table currently stands, as Atlético and FC Barcelona are tied at the top with 15 points, and Real sits in third place with 13 points.

Atlético and Barça are the only perfect teams remaining in the league, having won each of their five matches. Both play on Tuesday at home, against Osasuna and Real Sociedad, respectively.