Real Madrid suffered through another difficult game against a newly-promoted side, as they had to come from behind before defeating Elche 2-1 at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were rested for the midweek clash against Atalanta, but Sergio Ramos was back in central defence, to oversee what was an underwhelming half from Madrid once more. Without the two chief architects, they failed to create openings and the midfield wasn’t able to set any type of tempo to the game. The first real chance fell to Federico Valverde, after Antonio Barragán shanked his clearance when he injured himself during it, and that presented Valverde with a gift, one which he couldn’t take as his shot went wide.
Vinicius Junior looked bright in phases, and his run created the best opening for the hosts. Valverde started an attacking transition and found Vinicius on the right, the Brazilian’s cross across goal was fired wide by Karim Benzema, when he had enough time to take a touch and hit it with his right foot.
As is always the case, Thibaut Courtois had to bail out Madrid. A big save from the Belgian to deny Guido Carrillo a tap in if the keepr didn’t reach high and slap the ball away from danger. And then Madrid got lucky, a clever step-over from Carrillo almost had his strike-partner Lucas Boyé in on goal, but his first touch was too heavy and Courtois collected, even though the forward was in on the shoulder of Ramos.
The second half didn’t begin well either for the home side. Courtois made a point-blank save to deny Carrillo this time, and the alarm bells were ringing. On the hour mark, the visitors broke through. Dani Calvo caught Raphael Varane napping, and his header crashed against the underside of the cross-bar, before going over the line.
Three changes and adjustments from Zidane certainly helped. Rodrygo Goes, Modric and Kroos came on, and from a short corner, Madrid were back in it. Modric with the cross, Benzema with a fine header at the back post.
Madrid huffed and puffed to try and blow the Elche door down, Eden Hazard even came on for a cameo. But it was the combination of Rodrygo and Benzema that won it. The Brazilian’s chest down to the Frenchman at the edge of the box, who’s venomous shot went in off the post. A huge win for Madrid, a confidence boosting result, but the performance was still dire and unacceptable in several regards.
Up next for Real Madrid?
Who? Atalanta B.C.
When? Tuesday 16th March @ 21:00 CET
Where? Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Madrid