After denying that he’d agreed to take a job with the Brazil national team, manager Carlo Ancelotti guided Real Madrid to a record fifth Club World Cup trophy, this time by defeating Al-Hilal (W 5-3). Ignoring speculation that he would be sacked if they lost, he remains in place, saying that the win should give his side confidence in their pursuit of rivals and La Liga (LL) leaders Barcelona, who’ve stretched their lead at the summit to 11 points, albeit having played a game more.
All three of Madrid’s LL defeats this term came on the road, so playing at home could help if there’s any hangover from the weekend’s trophy-winning action. Ancelotti was disappointed with his defence against Al-Hilal so a third consecutive home league clean sheet is the target for Los Blancos (W1, D1), as is adding another victory to a long unbeaten LL record against Elche (W11, D2).
But Elche are no strangers to breaking long winless streaks after they finally got off the mark in the league with a 3-1 win over local rivals Villarreal (W1, D6, L13). While the first win of their centenary year sparked huge celebrations, they’ve significant work still to do if the season isn’t to end with disappointment as they sit ten points adrift at the bottom of the table.
That includes improving a dire record on the road, as they haven’t won a LL away game since April (D3, L9) although all three of those draws saw them score last, which at least shows their capabilities of fighting back. But with just three league away draws against sides currently in the bottom half to show for their efforts on the road this term (L7), getting anything against the reigning LL and European champions is a tall order for Los Franjiverdes.
Players to watch: With Vinícius Júnior suspended, Rodrygo could feature, though Madrid fans might have to be patient as five of his last six goals arrived after the 65th minute. Elche will hope Ezequiel Ponce can grab them a shock result as he’s bagged their first goal in four of his five goalscoring appearances this term.
Hot stat: There’s been a combined average of 2.79 goals per game across these two sides’ league fixtures this term.
|Real Madrid 2:0 Elche|
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