Real Madrid plays host to Elche as the two clubs meet for the second time this season on Saturday.
The first meeting between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw back in December. Luka Modric scored the lone goal for Real on the road.
Real is currently third in La Liga—two points behind Barcelona and eight behind Atletico. Atletico has played the match in-hand so the clubs are on equal terms with matches played. Los Blancos have drawn their last two matches after winning the last four matches prior.
Elche is sitting just outside of the relegation zone. The club is just two points ahead of both Eibar and Alaves. It will be looking hard for points to avoid being sent back down to the Segunda Division after this season.
Real Madrid has never lost a home match against Elche before. The club has also won six of its last eight home La Liga matches. Contrary, Elche is winless in its last 10 away matches with the last four being losses.
Real Madrid has finally seen both Sergio Ramos and Eden Hazard return to the squad from injury. Eder Militão has also returned to the lineup. Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola and Mariano meanwhile remain sidelined.
Elche has a relatively healthy squad as winger Emiliano Rigoni and right back Johan Mojica remain doubts.
There are no suspensions for either side in Saturday’s meeting at the Di Stefano.
Courtois; Vazquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Vinicius, Benzema
Even with Ramos and Hazard returning it’s unlikely Zidane gives either of them starts after such a long period of absence. It’s more likely he keeps a similar squad as of late and features both of them off the bench or rests before an important match against Atalanta next week.
Badia; Barragan, Gonzalo, Calvo, Josema; Morente, Guti, Marcone, Fidel; Boye, Carrillo
Real Madrid—Elche 2-0
This is a match Real should be winning, especially at home. Elche will be determined for three points to continue their fight for La Liga survival, but Real should have the quality to pull through.
Elche has already proven they can force a result after drawing with Real in the first meeting. The club also stunned Sevilla last weekend with a 2-1 victory. However, this should still see a winning result for Los Blancos given the players and depth available.
It will be interesting to see how Zidane incorporates both Hazard and Ramos, if at all. It’s important both are available for the return leg of the Champions League on Tuesday. It’s also important Real gets in the win column against a weaker side and continue their hopes of forcing somewhat of a title race.