Real Madrid: How Will They Line Up Against Elche in La Liga Clash?

Samuel Marsden@@samuelmarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2014

He huffed and puffed, but he couldn’t blow the house down. No matter what he tried—handballs, kicking people, protesting and flying into challenges—Sergio Ramos just could not draw a yellow card from the referee, Perez Montero, in the last 15 minutes of Real Madrid’s win over Getafe.

Perhaps Montero was wise to him.

If he had booked Ramos, it would have been the defender's fifth yellow card of the season and would have forced him out of Saturday's match against Elche. But why would he want to miss a game? Because he would get his ban out of the way in time to play against Atletico Madrid the following weekend.

As it is, Ramos is unlikely to take part against Elche now anyway. Marca reported that he trained away from the group on Wednesday due to a slight knock, but it was widely expected Carlo Ancelotti wouldn’t risk playing him with a suspension hanging over his head.

Raphael Varane is his obvious replacement. The young French defender should partner Pepe at the heart of Madrid’s defence.

They’ll presumably be in front of Diego Lopez, the recognised La Liga goalkeeper, although Ancelotti did suggest, talking to AS.com, that he may yet use Iker Casillas in the league in the future: “I’m not ruling out fielding Iker in one or two games, we will discuss that if we do make it to the Champions League final.”

Dani Carvajal missed last weekend’s win but could return to replace Alvaro Arbeloa at right-back, while Marcelo should prevail ahead of the fit-again Fabio Coentrao in the battle to be named as Ancelotti’s left-back.

Ahead of the back five, the Italian has a couple of suspensions to deal with.

Luka Modric, unlike Ramos, did manage to get his fifth yellow of the season against Getafe, and he will take a break this weekend. Meanwhile, pending a late change of mind from the Spanish FA, Cristiano Ronaldo is set to carry out the third match of his three-game suspension.

Modric’s absence makes Xabi Alonso’s inclusion all the more important. Marca have suggested that he’s been doing some work away from the group this week, although it’s anticipated he’ll be fine to partake this weekend.

Asier Illarramendi is in line to replace Modric, and Angel di Maria, who has been in scintillating form, is expected to continue in the middle of the park.

Ancelotti insisted last week, per ESPNFC.com, that he is “a coach not an administrator” with regard to selecting the price tag of Gareth Bale and the continued excellence of cantera product Jese Rodriguez.

However, with Ronaldo unavailable, he’s unlikely to have to make a decision on whether to drop either of them until the Champions League tie with Schalke next week—both should continue in the wide roles of the Los Blancos front three.

Finally, Karim Benzema, who has now scored 14 goals in the league, should resume his role as the central forward in the three.

 

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Diego Lopez; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Asier Illarramendi, Xabi Alonso, Angel di Maria; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Jese Rodriguez

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