Sports Mole previews Saturday’s La Liga clash between Elche and Real Madrid, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Real Madrid will be bidding to return to winning ways in La Liga on Saturday afternoon when they make the trip to Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero to take on Elche.
Los Blancos were held to a goalless draw by Osasuna on Wednesday but still returned to the top of the table, while Elche will enter the contest off the back of a 1-0 defeat at Alaves on Tuesday.
Elche have won two, drawn four and lost five of their 11 La Liga matches this season to collect 10 points, which has left them in 15th position in the table, three points above the relegation zone as things stand.
The Green-striped ones only just survived relegation back to the second tier last season, as they finished 17th in the table, two points clear of 18th-placed Huesca, and it would not be a surprise to see them battling in and around the bottom three for much of this campaign.
Elche’s last league victory came at the start of October, when they overcame Celta Vigo by one goal, but Fran Escriba‘s side have picked up just one point from their last three games against Rayo Vallecano, Espanyol and Alaves, which has seen them drop down the division.
Los Franjiverdes will be the underdogs this weekend, but they held Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw in the corresponding match between the two teams last season, while Los Blancos only ran out 2-1 winners in their last meeting at the Bernabeu back in March.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, could not build on their Clasico victory at Camp Nou when they took to the field against Osasuna on Wednesday, with the points being shared in a goalless draw.
The stalemate was enough to take Carlo Ancelotti‘s side back to the top of the table, but they could be knocked off the summit ahead of this match depending on the results on Thursday evening.
Los Blancos have not been without their problems this season, but a record of six wins, three draws and one defeat from 10 matches represents a solid start, and they will fancy their chances of winning their next three against Elche, Rayo Vallecano and Granada ahead of three tough games with Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid at the end of November and start of December.
Real Madrid have only actually won one of their last four in the league, but the success was a big one, as goals from David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez helped them record a 2-1 victory over Barcelona last weekend.
The capital giants have largely been impressive on their travels this season, meanwhile, winning six, drawing one and losing one of their eight games in all competitions away from home.
Elche La Liga form:
Real Madrid La Liga form:
Real Madrid form (all competitions):
Elche are again expected to be without the services of Pablo Piattibut the home side are otherwise in strong shape ahead of this weekend’s contest with Ancelotti’s side.
Head coach Escriba could potentially switch to a back five, with Antonio Barragan coming into the defense, while Dario Benedetto is also pushing to be included from the first whistle.
There are unlikely to be too many changes from the side that lost to Alaves, with Lucas Boye again featuring in attack, while Omar Mascarell and Raul Guti should retain their spots in midfield.
As for Real Madrid, Gareth Bale, Dani Ceballos and Federico Valverde will again miss out through injury, while Karim Benzema has been left out of the squad due to a minor foot problem.
Luka Modric was a late withdrawal from the squad against Osasuna due to muscular fatigue, but the Croatia international has been named in the squad alongside fit-again Isco.
Rodrygo is pushing to join Vinicius Junior as part of a front three, meaning that there could be more frustration for Eden Hazardwith Ancelotti recently admitting that the Belgium international is down the pecking order for the attacking spots at the Bernabeu.
Benzema’s absence has opened the door for Luka Jovic to start, with the Serbia international expected to get the nod at center-forward despite his struggles since arriving at the club.
Elche possible starting lineup:
Casilla; Bigas, Verdu, Barragan; Josan, Guti, Mascarell, Fidel, Mojica; Benedetto, Boye
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Rodrygo, Jovic, Vinicius
We say: Elche 1-3 Real Madrid
Elche are capable of making this a tricky afternoon for Real Madrid, who struggled to get going against Osasuna last time out. Los Blancos will be determined to return to winning ways, though, and we are finding it very difficult to predict anything other than a routine victory for the title hopefuls.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5: data