La Liga Preview: Real Madrid v Elche
By Football News
Real Madrid will move top of La Liga for at least a few hours if they extend their unbeaten run to 26 matches against Elche on Saturday.
Carlo Ancelotti's side remain locked level on 60 points with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the summit of the Spanish top flight, but sit second behind the Catalan club by virtue of their inferior goal difference.
Real play before either of their great rivals this weekend though, with Barca visiting Real Sociedad later on Saturday and Atleti travelling to Osasuna on Sunday, meaning they require just a point at home to Fran Escriba's men to take top spot.
However, the capital club's imperious form of late - they have not lost a game since their 2-1 Liga reverse at Camp Nou in October - indicates they will pick up a 15th consecutive home victory in all competitions.
Indeed, the only team to avoid defeat in 18 matches at the Bernabeu in La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey this term are Atleti, who came away with a 1-0 league win in September.
Elche can take some heart from the fact Cristiano Ronaldo will be absent this weekend, with the Portugal star serving the last of his three-game ban after his sending off at Athletic Bilbao earlier in the month.
Ronaldo netted twice in Real's 2-1 victory at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero in September - including a controversial 96th-minute winning penalty - and is La Liga's top scorer this season, with 22 goals in 21 appearances.
Real have seemingly not missed the former Manchester United man, however, as they have put seven goals past Villarreal and Getafe in the two Liga games since his dismissal at San Mames.
Jese Rodriguez has replaced Ronaldo on the left, and has also filled the Portuguese's boots capably with a goal in each of his last three games.
A 3-0 win at Getafe last time out took Ancelotti's men to 101 goals in 38 games in all competitions this term and, given Elche's poor record on the road, that total looks set to grow this weekend.
Escriba's team, who sit 13th in the table, have won just two of their 11 away Liga matches this season, conceding 23 goals in the process.