Real Madrid will be the overwhelming favorites against Elche on Sunday, as they look to extend their first-place lead on Barcelona in La Liga. Elche, meanwhile, are just four points clear of the relegation zone.
Real Madrid have won consecutive matches across all competitions after an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the hands of rivals Atlético Madrid on Feb. 7. Elche just ended a three-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over Eibar on Monday. Elche understand they will have their hands full with the one of the giants of the Spanish Primera Division.
“In order to beat Real Madrid we have to show a lot of enthusiasm,” said former Real Madrid youth player and current Elche midfielder Adrian Gonzalez, according to ESPNFC.
“We are going through a good run of form and we have to think that if we play like this, there is no reason why we cannot win always.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had been feeling the heat from second-place rivals Barcelona. The Catalans had won 11-straight matches across all competitions before being upset by Malaga on Saturday, 1-0. Sunday is an opportunity for Real Madrid to gain a four-point edge.
Real Madrid’s star forward Cristiano Ronaldo scored in their latest match, a 2-0 victory at Schalke 04 in the Champions League. The finish ended a short, but rare, scoring drought for Ronaldo, who had gone three matches without a goal. If Ronaldo is getting his form back, it can only mean good thing for Real Madrid. Los Blancos do have a reason to be fearful heading into Sunday’s match however.
Last season’s matchup between the two sides at Elche was mired in controversy. Real Madrid were awarded a highly questionable penalty kick that spurred them on to a surprisingly close 2-1 victory.
Real Madrid would later thump Elche on Sept. 23 at Santiago Bernabeu, 5-1, behind four goals from Ronaldo.
Elche will likely rely on their top-scorer, forward Jonathas who has netted nine league goals. Real Madrid have three players with more goals in league-leader Ronaldo (28), striker Karim Benzema (12) and winger Garth Bale (10). Real Madrid forward James Rodriguez isn’t far behind with eight goals.
Real Madrid are certainly favored but with Elche’s memories from last year’s matchup at Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero, it could prove to be a testy match.
Prediction: Real Madrid, starting to look at bit more in form, will prove to be too much for the overmatched Elche side.
Elche 1 - 3 Real Madrid
Kickoff time: 2:55 p.m. EST
TV channel: beIN Sports
Live stream: beIn Sports Connect