The Santiago Bernabéu opened its doors again for La Liga a few days after Real Madrid scored 13 goals in less than a week. The next victim was Elche FC, and there were some surprises prepared for them. Keylor Navas, Asier Illarramendi and Isco all started tonight, hoping to offer a solid alternative for Carlo Ancelotti.
The visitors were being conservative, but they still managed to get Carvajal booked as he stopped a counter attack. Also, they were being pretty disciplined early, not leaving open lanes or spaces between the lines. It took Real Madrid eight minutes to get their first shot.
Real Madrid were dominating the ball possession, but then the unexpected happened. A pretty shocking PK was called against Real Madrid as Cristiano Ronaldo accidentally touched an Elche player trying to clear a rebound inside the box. Albacar beat Keylor and Elche were all of a sudden 0-1.
After taking the lead and making Marcelo see his first yellow card, it was as if Elche were living the dream. Sadly for them, Bale and James combined at the 19th minute to crush their hopes. The Colombian's cross was headed by Bale well enough to beat a weak effort by Herrera and make it 1-1.
In a game filled with stars, it was Clos Gómez who decided to steal the show. At the 26th, he called yet another weak PK but luckily, this was against Elche for a "foul" against Marcelo. Cristiano Ronaldo redeemed himself and gave his team the lead with a perfect shot from the penalty spot. As if it wasn't enough, the Portuguese phenom struck again at the 31' with one of his signature, lethal headers and extended the lead to 3-1 (assisted by Marcelo).
Real Madrid still had a chance to score more before halftime, but Herrera denied them twice, including a good shot by Kroos inside the box, to keep it 3-1 at halftime.
The last 45 minutes were all Real Madrid's. While Ancelotti's men dominated, there were lapses where they didn't create much, not because they didn't want to, but because the win was in the bag with the 3-1. Elche had it a lot worse, mostly because each time they tried to build a decent possession, they faced a wall built by Isco, Kroos (who even had a shot hit the crossbar) and Illarramendi.
Unfortunately for Elche, who proved to be a very decent opponent, Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't know how to relax. The current Ballon D'Or caught fire and became Real's most dangerous weapon in the second half. Elche's GK denied him a couple times, but it wasn't enough to contain the best player in the world. Ronaldo converted again from the penalty spot at the 80th minute (after he created the PK) to get his 25th hat-trick as a Madridista. Since it wasn't enough for a beast like him, he scored his fourth goal of the night right before the end of the game after a brilliant assist by Gareth Bale.
With this 5-1 win, Real Madrid now had scored 18 goals in a week, which is a fantastic way to react after losing two games in a row. It helps to have a predator like Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored eight of those goals, but that's exactly what makes him the best in the world.
Elche didn't look as fragile as most people would've expected, but their lack of talent was more than evident. They simply do as best as they can with what they have.
Ancelotti's alternative 4-4-2 system worked really well for him, mainly thanks to ridiculous performances by Cristiano, Isco and Illarramendi. That midfield was spectacular tonight, drowning Elche both on offense and on defense. Hopefully Carlo will take notice of how balanced (something he always talks about) his team can be with Illarra out there. Kroos, James and Bale were also pretty good and helped complete a very solid game for Real Madrid.
Defensively, there wasn't much to talk about. Elche's goal came after Gómez called a very weak penalty, and Navas wasn't required to do a lot, but when he had to intervene, he looked very confident and more than ready to be the starting GK.
Real Madrid are now on fire and they're more than capable of keeping that fire burning for a long time.