Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Saturday, February 21, 15:00 GMT
As we go into the 25th La Liga gameweek, Real Madrid play host to Elche. Will Elche be able to beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu and end their 25-match unbeaten streak?
Last weekend, Real Madrid extended their unbeaten run to 25 games and joined Barcelona and Atletico at the top of the table. Having pocketed a win away from home against Getafe and having had enough rest over the week, Real Madrid will look to extend their unbeaten run and go top of the table hoping either Barcelona or Atletico, if not both, slip-up.
Real Madrid will look to strengthen their position in the league by securing the three points as they will look to beat Atletico Madrid next week when they travel to the Vicente Calderon. A win will mean Real Madrid go top of the table 3 points clear of Barcelona and Atletico as the other two La Liga giants will play their games later in the week.
Elche, who are placed 14th in the La Liga table have shown grit and look determined to avoid relegation. With 26 points in the kitty, Elche are a good 5 points away from relegation zone. However, that could change as they travel to the capital to face Real Madrid, who are playing some amazing football at the moment.
Real Madrid’s tremendous form indicates that they will go for the kill and secure their 15th consecutive victory in all competitions at the Bernabeu. However, Elche will be determined to avoid a defeat and stun their opposition. The last time these two teams faced each other, it resulted in a thrilling game which saw Ronaldo netting a free-kick, Elche negating it and then Ronaldo converting a rather controversial penalty. Elche were unlucky to lose the game 2-1.
Real Madrid will go into this game looking to fire up the stage and seal a victory. A win will help ‘Los Blancos’ create pressure on two of their biggest rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. Carlo Ancelotti will be without Khedira, Ronaldo and Modric. While, Khedira has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury, Ronaldo will complete his three-match suspension sitting out this game and be back in time against Atletico Madrid. Modric is also facing a suspension for accumulating his fifth yellow card of the season against Getafe. Sergio Ramos who is just a yellow away from suspension may be rested for this game in order to ensure he does not face suspension for the game against Atletico.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have slowly adapted to the 4-3-3 formation and we expect the Italian to stick with it. As it has been the case for league games this season, Diego Lopez will be fielded between the sticks as Casillas will play the mid-week Champions League fixture against Schalke. The back four may consist of Carvajal, Pepe, Varane and Marcelo as Arbeloa and Ramos may be rested. Illarramendi will take Modric’s place and join Alonso and Di Maria in the centre of the field. In-form Jesé will take up Ronaldo’s role on the left wing and will be joined by Bale on the right wing and Benzema upfront.
Probable line-up (4-3-3): Lopez; Carvajal, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Illarramendi, Alonso, Di Maria; Bale, Benzema, Jesé;
A tough task lies ahead of Elche as they travel to the Bernabeu hoping to end Real Madrid’s winning streak at home. Having won only 2 of their 11 away Liga games this season, not much is expected from Escriba’s men. Sitting 14th in the table, Elche are looking to be on their way to avoid relegation comfortably. However, Real Madrid could pose a serious problem for lowly Elche in a David vs Goliath battle. All being said, the fact that Elche almost avoided defeat in the reverse fixture at home provides a little bit of hope for the Elche supporters.
Escriba could field the same Elche 11 that drew against Osasuna over the weekend. Tono will occupy the goal while, Sapunaru, Botia, Pelegrin and Cisma will play as the back four. In centre of the park, Gil, Perez, Marquez and Del Moral will be fielded. Coro and Herrera will play ahead of the mid-field.
Probable line-up (4-4-2): Tono; Sapunaru, Botia, Pelegrin, Cisma; Gil, Perez, Marquez, Del Moral; Coro, Herrera;
Player to Watch out for
Jesé Rodriguez (Real Madrid)
The 20-year old forward is making full use of the playtime he has been receiving. The suspension of club superstar Ronaldo has come as a blessing in disguise for the Castilla graduate. Jesé who must be aiming to beat Raul’s first season at the club will be looking to add to his tally playing at home against underdogs Elche.
Real Madrid 4-0 Elche
Playing at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid will certainly be expected to dominate the game from the start. They will look to overpower Elche and win by a comfortable margin of goals.