Real Madrid 2-2 Elche (Modrić & Militão). This is the immediate reaction to the draw. Out soon: press conference quotes, the player ratings and a ManagingMadrid post game podcast.
After only just overcoming Elche during the midweek Copa Del Rey game, the visitors would come to the Bernabéu searching for revenge of some sorts in today’s league fixture. Madrid were still flying high in the table, though - and the line-up was as strong as could be expected. Match winner Eden Hazard entered the line-up as Marco Asensio was ruled out once more due to injury. On the bench, Gareth Bale made the squad for the first time this year. Toni Fuidias was the only Castilla player called up. Karim Benzema was given the captain’s armband again. Prior to kick off, Real Madrid icon Paco Gento was given a heart-warming send off after sadly passing away earlier this week.
It was a dominant display from Real Madrid, who created chance after chance in the first half. Benzema, Vinícius Júnior and Casemiro could have recorded at least a brace - but the incoming shots were either parried by the keeper or place too far low to his left. Madrid were awarded a penalty when Toni Kroos dubiously gained possession of the ball and gave it to Vinícius, who was badly chopped down in the box. The decision stood despite the initial challenge from Kroos looking questionable, but Benzema made sure it did not matter either way - smashing the ball into space to waste the chance. Elche looked to counter but provided no threat whatsoever, until the final moments of the half when they managed to somehow sneak into the lead. A good cross came in and the ball was bundled home by Lucas Boyé to make revenge from midweek a genuine possibility. As late as the goal was, Real Madrid created another four big chances before the half was out, the best coming from Ferland Mendy who immediately played a give and go with Benzema from the centre ball, and burst into the box before shooting just wide. They managed to preserve the lead by half time, but they had a tremendous amount of work to do if they wanted to keep the score line intact for the rest of the game.
Eternal greatness. One of the most important players in the history of Real Madrid. He will always be remembered by Madridistas and all football fans as one of the best. Gracias Gento. pic.twitter.com/8CWW9NtghJ— RMZZ (@RMBlancoZz) January 23, 2022
Despite starting brightly, the second half appeared to fall directly in Elche’s favour in multiple ways. The referee seemed to give Madrid another penalty, only to correctly overturn his decision due to the lack of contact on Hazard as he went down in the box. Benzema then hobbled off with an injury, and the game completely turned. Madrid did not look so fluid and weren’t creating as many chances, as Elche sat very deep to frustrate the hosts. Vinícius spurned a big chance as he shot wide from inside the area, and this would heavily cost Madrid as they found themselves two down. Pere Milla was fed through after some great midfield play, and the forward shot low past Thibaut Courtois to silence the home crowd. Casemiro attempted to respond by hitting the woodwork from a header, but this only increased the suspense. A third penalty shout went Madrid’s way after a handball in the box from an Elche defender. Luka Modrić stepped up this time, and finished calmly to keep the game alive. Rodrygo came reasonably close with a half-chance, but Madrid would come closer by full time. They found the equaliser when Éder Militão headed home a decent Vinícius cross in added time. It sadly came too late for a winner, but the draw was salvaged as the game finished 2-2. Happy with the point, all things considered? Catch the pending post game podcast to hear the experts thoughts!