Gareth Bale is back in the matchday squad as Real Madrid get set to take on Elche CF in the Copa Del Rey Round of 16 on Thursday.

Real Madrid will continue their journey in Copa Del Rey on Thursday when they lock horns with Elche in the Round of 16. With the tie being a single-legged fixture, the visitors cannot afford a slip up as they look to secure their fifth consecutive win in all competitions this midweek.

It will be a challenging tie for Carlo Ancelotti, who has to deal with several fatigue issues, with the game coming on the back of a long trip from the Middle East. The Real Madrid boss has already confirmed the absence of Thibaut Courtois while hinting that there may be few changes in the offing.

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“He’s unavailable and will be for a few days, no longer. I can’t say why for privacy reasons, but I have no doubt he’ll be ready for Sunday,” said Ancelotti when asked about the Belgian goalkeeper in the pre-match press conference. Courtois will likely be replaced by Andriy Lunin between the sticks this midweek.

Up ahead in defence, Lucas Vazquez may have to continue in the absence of Dani Carvajal, whereas Marcelo will be hoping to get the nod ahead of Ferland Mendy at left-back. Eder Militao is suspended after picking up a red card in the last game. Nacho will deputise for the Brazilian, accompanying David Alaba at the heart of the Real Madrid defence.

Moving into midfield, Ancelotti sounded rather apprehensive when asked about potential rotation to his starting eleven, stating, “The objective is to win the game and I’m going to put out the strongest possible team.”

Nevertheless, we are anticipating a couple of changes in midfield, with Luka Modric and Casemiro likely to make way for Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga. The two youngsters can provide more energy and urgency to the Real Madrid midfield that will be balanced out by the calm and composed figure of Toni Kroos.

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Meanwhile, in the attacking department, Real Madrid have been boosted by the return of Gareth Bale. The Welshman has been included in the matchday squad, with Ancelotti stating, “He’s fine. He didn’t come to Saudi Arabia, but trained and is available. He’ll be in the squad and everyone called up has the chance to play from the start, to come on or not to play”.

Bale is unlikely to start, but the only attacking change from Ancelotti should see Luka Jovic replacing Karim Benzema, accompanying Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior in the front three. Benzema, Bale and Eden Hazard remain options on the bench, should Los Blancos require additional firepower upfront.

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Lunin; Vazquez, Nacho, Alaba, Marcelo; Valverde, Camavinga, Kroos; Rodrygo, Jovic, Vinicius Jr.

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