Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Elche – 2021/22
Elche come calling for the second time this week, as Real Madrid look to move six points clear at the top. Sevilla and Atlético Madrid were both unconvincing in their respective games yesterday. Sevilla salvaged a point and Atleti made a remarkable late comeback to win, now the onus is on Ancelotti’s team to set the record right.
What to Expect:
Elche were stubborn in midweek. Not merely in a sense that they spent much of the two hours defending Real Madrid’s attacks. Francisco Rodríguez’s team launched energetic counter-attacks, sent men up on set pieces and were more than capable of putting the visitors under masses of pressure, especially in the goalless first-half — where they pretty much matched Real Madrid’s midfield.
Today however, things will be different. Madrid return to their fortress, and are playing for a possible six point lead at the top. Needless to say, much of Ancelotti’s preferred starting XI will return and on the fore, that can only mean good things. The gulf in quality was unquestionably there in the Cup game, which came after a tiring Super Copa win in Saudi.
With the likes of Benzema, Militão, Modrić and Casemiro playing again, Los Blancos’ dominance will not go unnoticed, or in vain. Elche will have to be far more efficient with the chances they have, and far tighter in defence with Vinicius and Benzema running directly at Diego González and Gonzalo Verdu.
Ancelotti was ecstatic after Eden Hazard’s winner secured Madrid a place in the next round of the Copa del Rey, and said afterwards that this was the victory he’d enjoyed most in this part of the season. Without doubt, playing with fire in LaLiga shouldn’t be an option for the Merengues, more so at home following a Super Cup triumph.
The team left Dani Carvajal back in Saudi Arabia last week, following a positive Covid test. Marco Asensio picked up an injury in the Clasico and will be out for a while. Both Jesus Vallejo and Mariano Diaz are also sidelined.
Eden Hazard is likely to be selected following what was an impressive goal earlier in the week. Gareth Bale is fit but will likely be excluded from the first eleven.
Pedro Bigas, Ivan Marcone, Enzo Roco and former keeper Kiko Casilla are all major doubts for Elche.
Squad list for Sunday’s match against Elche. VAMOS 💪
Players NOT called up:
— Real Madrid News (@onlyrmcfnews) January 22, 2022
Vázquez — Militão — Alaba — Mendy
Modrić — Casemiro — Kroos
Hazard — Benzema — Vini Jr.
Palacios — Verdú — González — Mojica
Fidel — Guti — Gumbau — Milla
Lucas Pérez — Lucas Boyé
Player to Watch:
Real Madrid: Eden Hazard. Even with rumours of an exit on the horizon, disregarding the number 7 altogether would be doing a massive injustice to his talent. The fact of the matter is that both Bale and Rodrygo are on their toes for the very spot that Hazard will likely be granted today. And if he fails to perform, It becomes increasingly likely that he will not feature much in the weeks leading up to the Champions League Round of 16.
Elche: Lucas Boyé. The 25 year old goes by the nicknames El Tanque (The Tank) or El Toro (The Bull) in his native Argentina. He is a well structured, yet agile centre forward whose dribbling ability is unsurprisingly good given his form (in a physical sense).
Boyé holds play, scores goals and links well with his fellow strike partner, but most notable of all is his tendency to compromise his position and track back in the best interests of the team. Perhaps that’s one of the qualities that motivated Elche to activate the option to buy from Reading in 2020.
Real Madrid 2-0 Elche.
It is a comprehensively better team from last time out. Simply put, I do not expect many slip ups. Ancelotti realises the importance of getting the team in it’s best shape ahead of a Champions League knockout game. Hopefully another three points and we keep marching!