FIFA Club World Champions Real Madrid will look to bounce back to winning ways in La Liga when they host Elche on Wednesday.
After their triumph in the Club World Cup, Los Blancos will have to shift their focus towards La Liga. Real Madrid are all set to host bottom-placed Elche at the Santiago Bernabeu. Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be eager to bounce back in the league after suffering a defeat at the hands of Mallorca last time around. While relegation-threatened Elche will look to continue from where they left off against Villarreal.
Real Madrid will head into this encounter on the back of a 5-3 win over Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal. Their win over Al Hilal resulted in a historic fifth Club World Cup title for the club. Ancelotti’s men will now have to focus on chasing down Barcelona in La Liga as they trail by eleven points.
Los Blancos have only lost three league matches in the ongoing season. But of late, they have not been at their best. They have dropped points in three of their last five fixtures. And, two of their defeats have come after the World Cup break.
Real Madrid suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of RCD Mallorca last time around in the league. The Spanish champions had the majority of the ball and took 20 shots on target but could not breach Mallorca’s defense. Carlo Ancelotti’s men will look to bounce back and get back on track in the league.
As far as Elche are concerned, they have just picked up their first league win of the season last time around. It was a great outing for the bottom-placed team against Villarreal. They managed to get past the Yellow Submarine, having suffered 13 losses in the 19 matches before facing them.
After 19 failed attempts to claim all three, they finally managed to get the job done against Villarreal. Elche defeated the team in yellow 3-1 thanks to a Pere Milla hat-trick. Despite that win, nothing much has changed for the bottom-placed team. They are still ten points behind 19th-placed Getafe but do have a game in hand.
Los Franjiverdes have a big task on their hands. They are 12 points behind 17th-placed Espanyol and have 18 games in hand to survive relegation. It is an uphill task but a few wins in a row can change it all for them.
But, the fact that they have only managed to score 15 goals and are the joint-lowest scorers in the league won’t help them. While scoring goals has been a problem, defending them has been an even bigger issue as they hold the worst defensive record, having conceded 40.
Last time around when the two teams met each other in the reverse fixture, Los Blancos came out on top with a 3-0 win. The Alicante outfit suffered at the hands of the defending La Liga champions.
Since then, a lot has changed at Elche; they have a new boss in Pablo Machin, who will be eager to do better against the Spanish giants. It is going to be an interesting fixture between two teams who are desperate for a win for different reasons. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look into the teams and the tactics they might use.
Team News & Tactics
Carlo Ancelotti will once again be without the services of Ferland Mendy and Eden Hazard, whose future is highly uncertain, due to injury. Vinicius Junior will also miss the game against Elche due to suspension as the winger picked up a fifth yellow card during the defeat against Mallorca.
📋✅ Our squad for the match 🆚 @Elchecf_en! #RealMadridElche pic.twitter.com/gELSMoF4CD
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) February 14, 2023
Thibaut Courtois has returned to training but is not ready for the upcoming fixture. Even Toni Kroos has some issues and is not a part of the squad. But Eder Militao and Lucas Vazquez have returned to the squad for the game against Elche.
Carlo Ancelotti will go ahead with his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation. Andriy Lunin will continue in goal. David Alaba and Dani Carvajal will be the full-backs. Meanwhile, Nacho and Antonio Rudiger will be the centre-back pairing.
Aurelien Tchouameni, Luka Modric, and Dani Ceballos will be the three in midfield. Finally, Rodrygo, Federico Valverde, and Karim Benzema will be the front three.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Nacho, Alaba; Modric, Tchouameni, Ceballos; Valverde, Benzema, Rodrygo
Pablo Machin will be without the services of Pere Milla. The hat-trick hero from their win over Villarreal is set to be out for a while after undergoing clavicle surgery. John Nwankwo, Alex Collado, and Tete Morente are all out injured.
Omar Mascarell and Helibelton Palacios will also miss the trip to Madrid, as the duo is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
🎙𝗥𝗗𝗣 | Pablo Machín
💬 “Tenemos que seguir en esta línea. De equipo incómodo para el rival, vertical y ambicioso” #MuchoElche 💚
— Elche Club de Fútbol🌴💯🥇 (@elchecf) February 14, 2023
Machin will go ahead with the 3-4-3 formation. Edgar Badia will start in goal for Elche. Diego Gonzalez, Enzo Roco, and Lisandro Magallan will be the back three. Jose Angel Carmona, Raul Guti, Gerard Gumbau, and Carlos Clerc will start in midfield for Machin. The front three will be Ezequiel Ponce, Lucas Boye, and Fidel Chaves.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Badia; Gonzalez, Roco, Magallan; Carmona, Guti, Gumbau, Clerc; Ponce, Boye, Fidel
- Real Madrid have been unbeaten in their last 23 home league matches against Elche.
- Elche have not won a game against Real Madrid since March 1978. But the positive is that they have managed to draw two of their last three meetings.
- Carlo Ancelotti’s men have failed to score in two of their last three La Liga matches. That is equal to the number of times they have failed to score in their previous 26 outings in La Liga.
- Elche are the joint-lowest scorers in the league. They have only scored 15 goals in the ongoing season.
- Pablo Machin’s men have the worst defensive record in the league, having conceded 40 goals thus far.
Player to Watch
Karim Benzema returned to action for Real Madrid in the Club World Cup final and right away he got on the scoresheet. The Frenchman is all set to start against Elche and will be eager to continue his good run of form in La Liga.
The veteran striker has scored 14 goals in 22 matches so far this season. He has nine goals in the Spanish top flight and is five behind Robert Lewandowski. Benzema will be eager to help his team bounce back in La Liga and reduce the gap in the golden boot race.
Real Madrid 3-0 Elche
Carlo Ancelotti’s men are fresh from a historic triumph in the Club World Cup and would love to carry on their good work in La Liga. Barcelona have an 11-point lead at the moment, and the Real Madrid players will be aware that a slip-up at this stage will mean they are out of the title race.
Elche are heading into it on the back of a result, but they do not really have enough to get past the La Liga defending champions. So The Hard Tackle predicts a run-of-the-mill 3-0 win for Ancelotti’s men on Wednesday.
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