Real Madrid: How They Will Line Up Against Elche in La Liga
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It was supposed to be Gareth Bale's big day—his home debut in the Santiago Bernabeu against a Getafe side susceptible to a large defeat.
That's not how it progressed, though. The Welshman's injury in the warm-up paved the way for another 90 minutes of headline-making from Cristiano Ronaldo, as his brace in the 4-1 win took him above Hugo Sanchez into fifth in Real Madrid's all-time top scorers list.
There's barely anytime to take that in, though, as on Wednesday Los Blancos travel to newly promoted Elche for their sixth match of the league season—it will be day six of an 11-day run featuring a La Liga match each day.
It should yield Diego Lopez's sixth successive league start considering Iker Casillas wasn't even deemed fit enough to take his place on the bench on Sunday, but who will take the 10 spots ahead of him?
The good news for Madrid fans is that, on the back of that Bale withdrawal, Raphael Varane was able to make the bench. It means the young French international cannot be far away from making a full return to the side now.
It's unlikely to come against Elche, though, with Carlo Ancelotti less likely to tinker with his side on the road. Nacho Fernandez started, and did well, against Getafe, but Wednesday evening should bring a return to the lineup for Sergio Ramos alongside Pepe.
Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao both returned to training ahead of the weekend's win, and while Elche will be too soon for the Brazilian to make his comeback, Coentrao is very much in contention.
Alvaro Arbeloa and Dani Carvajal have featured as full backs for the club's last two matches, so Ancelotti will have to decide whether to stick with them or bring in the Portuguese international on the left side of his defence.
Elsewhere Luka Modric should return, having been rested from the start against Getafe, but the question is who will partner him?
Sami Khedira and Asier Illarramendi both provide good options; we could also see the Croatian playing further forward, with Isco given the break intended for him before he took Bale's place on Sunday.
That would then leave three slots to fill, if Isco were to be rested, or two when you consider that Cristiano Ronaldo will start.
Angel di Maria, with Bale unlikely to be risked, should continue, albeit in a more traditional role on the right this time, considering the form he has shown so far this season.
Then Karim Benzema, who will be feeling the pressure after two missed headers in the Getafe win, will be left to take up the No. 9 role in Ancelotti's team—despite the mounting pressure for Alvaro Morata or Jese Rodriguez to be let loose from the start.
The French forward needs to have faith shown in him at the moment, as the Bernabeu crowd continue to get on his back.
However, after becoming predictable with his lineups for the first four league matches, Ancelotti showed he isn't afraid to mix it up at the weekend, so don't be surprised if he chooses to rotate again when Madrid head over to Spain's east coast on Wednesday.
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