Carlo Ancelotti is taking nothing for granted ahead of his Real Madrid side’s trip to Elche on Wednesday, having already been given a stern examination by another newly promoted club this season. Real Madrid in large part had goalkeeper Diego Lopez to thank for walking away from Villarreal with a 2-2 draw earlier this month. Now going up against the side that topped the Segunda Division table last season, Ancelotti is expecting a tough contest.
“It will be difficult and we have to be careful with this match because we already had the experience with Villarreal and against Elche will be the same,” he said, according to Real Madrid’s official website. “We are facing a team who are very keen, who won the league last season and playing us is a big motivation for them. We have to concentrate and have as much character and desire to win as them.”
Madrid have made the trip to Alicante without Gareth Bale, who is still recovering from a slight muscle strain suffered in the warm-up for Sunday’s 4-1 win over Getafe. Ancelotti confirmed, though, that the big-money signing will be available for Saturday’s crunch clash with Atletico Madrid. Also back for the weekend will be Marcelo. Fellow left-back Fabio Conetrao, meanwhile, is back in the squad to face, as is goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
There has been much attention on Karim Benzema in recent days. Not for the first time this season, the French striker suffered groans and whistles from the Bernabeu crowd last time out after missing a series of chances. Ancelotti, though, is not concerned by either Benzema’s performances or the response from the club’s fans.
“He's played well, I'm pleased with his work, apart from his lack of goals,” he said, according to Spanish sports daily AS. “It's not a problem that the fans are booing him, sometimes booing is good, it motivates you.”
While Ancelotti has understandably compared Elche to Villarreal, the two sides’ start to life in the top flight could hardly have been more opposed. While Villarreal remain undefeated, Elche have yet to record a win on their return to the Primera Division after a 24-year absence. Last Friday they suffered a 2-1 defeat to the previously point-less Osasuna.
D: Suarez, Botia, Lomban, Albacar
M: Sanchez, Perez
Stevanovic, Coro, Fidel
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Arbeloa
M: Khedira, Modric
Di Maria, Isco, Ronaldo
Prediction: Real Madrid have started their last two La Liga outings poorly, conceding the first goal in each, and Ancelotti has targeted this as something which needs improving. In truth, it is difficult to see an Elche side that has scored just four goals in five matches posing much of a threat. It could be an ideal match, therefore, to reintroduce the hugely talented Varane back into the starting lineup. The loss of Bale is hardly a huge cause for concern, with Isco in scintillating form and Di Maria providing balance on the right. A comfortable away win appears on the cards.
Elche 0-3 Real Madrid
Where to watch: The Spanish Primera Division match will kick-off from the Martinez Valero at 4 p.m. ET. The contest will be screened by beIN Sport Espanol, with second-half coverage on beIN Sport. A live stream will be available on beIN Sport Play.