Real Madrid will be bidding to book their spot in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey when they head to fellow La Liga outfit Elche on Thursday night.
Los Blancos beat Athletic Bilbao to win the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday, while Elche will enter the contest off the back of a 1-0 victory over Villarreal in La Liga last time out.
Elche have reached the last-16 stage of the Copa del Rey for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign, but they will have to be at their best to advance any further, having been drawn against the La Liga leaders.
Los Franjiverdes have had to win three matches to reach this stage of the competition, overcoming Leioa, Unionistas de Salamanca and Almeria, and they have actually been victorious in five of their last six games in this competition.
Elche have also triumphed in their last three games in all competitions, beating Almeria in the Copa del Rey on January 6 before recording back-to-back league victories over Espanyol and Villarreal.
Francisco’s side have moved into 15th spot in La Liga due to their recent wins, five points clear of the relegation zone, so they will enter Thursday’s match in good confidence despite their status as underdogs.
Elche will again face Real Madrid in the league this weekend, and the two recent meetings between the pair have been close affairs, with Los Blancos winning 2-1 on both occasions, while the points were shared in a 1-1 draw when they locked horns during the 2020-21 La Liga campaign.
Real Madrid added to their vast trophy cabinet on Sunday night by beating Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Spanish Super Cup, with Luka Modric and Karim Benzema on the scoresheet in Saudi Arabia.
Los Blancos are also top of La Liga, five points clear of second-placed Sevilla, while they will face Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 stage of the Champions League, with the first leg of the fascinating contest set to take place in the French capital in the middle of next month.
Real Madrid have only had to win once to reach this stage of the Copa del Rey, recording a 3-1 victory over Alcoyano, with head coach Carlo Ancelotti rotating his squad for the contest.
The Whites have won this competition on 19 occasions but have not lifted the trophy since 2014, with other tournaments taking on more importance for the club in recent years.
Ancelotti will be targeting a clean sweep this season, but there is no question that the league and Champions League will again be viewed as more important to the capital giants, who have lost two of their last three matches in this particular competition.
Elche Copa del Rey form:
Elche form (all competitions):
Real Madrid Copa del Rey form:
Real Madrid form (all competitions):
We say: Elche 1-2 Real Madrid
Elche will enter this match in good confidence, and they will not be taking on a full-strength Real Madrid side on Thursday night. It is difficult to back against Ancelotti’s side at the moment, though, and we are expecting them to secure their spot in the quarter-finals of the competition courtesy of a narrow success.