Real Madrid looking to mount a late title challenge with a win over Elche

With a season-defining Champions League clash on the horizon, Los Blancos must first get back to winning ways in La Liga, and their game with Elche is a perfect place to start.

All scores were quite literally settled in the Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday, as Real Madrid snatched a late equaliser against inner-city rivals and league leaders Atletico to remain on the tail of Diego Simeone's side.

The clinical Luis Suarez opened the scoring for Los Colchoneros after 15 minutes before a familiar face in Karim Benzema scraped a point for the visitors just two minutes from time - placing the ball into an empty goal after an incisive one-two with Casemiro.

A draw in the Spanish capital meant Zinedine Zidane's side maintained their position in third, eight points behind Atletico and two behind Barcelona, whose victory over Osasuna saw them extend their marginal lead over Los Blancos.

Although a number of concerns have been raised around performances of both the players and the manager at the Santiago Bernabeu, there is still a hope - albeit slim - of the club securing European or domestic glory before this season comes to a close.

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Before defending their 1-0 first-leg lead against Atalanta in the Champions League round of 16, Los Blancos must next focus their attention towards a league clash in Madrid against relegation-threatened Elche.

Los Franjiverdes currently sit in 17th in the La Liga table, just two points clear of Eibar in 18th but were provided a glimmer of hope for their survival chances when they defeated high-flying Sevilla 2-1 at the Estadio Martinez Valero last weekend.

With a crucial Champions League clash awaiting them next week and their hard-fought league pursuit continuing, this next week of football could be pivotal for Real Madrid, and nothing more than two victories will suffice.

Tip of the fixture

Elche centre-back Gonzalo Verdu has been cautioned heavily this season, with seven yellow cards in 24 games.

Alternatively, Real Madrid talisman Benzema has scored 13 goals for Los Blancos in La Liga this season and will be hungry to add to his ever-growing tally.

Paddy Power are offering 25/1 odds on the Frenchman to open the scoring and the Los Franjiverdes defender to be booked.

Let's take a look at some statistics from previous meetings between the two.

Stat attack

Astoundingly, Elche haven't defeated Real Madrid in all competitions since the 1977/78 season, last bettering them in a 3-1 home victory in March 1978, meaning Madrid have gone unbeaten against them for the last 43 years.

The 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture between the two earlier this season ended a nine-game winning streak for Los Blancos in the last 10 meetings between the two over a period of 37 years.

The biggest scoreline recorded between the two is 11-2, in a match at the Bernabeu in February, 1960. Just for reference, Paddy Power aren't offering bets on 11-2, but Real Madrid to win 11-0 is 200/1.

Of the 43 games played between the two since 1959, Real Madrid boast a win percentage of 62.7% having won 27, with their opponents winning just six and the two sides sharing the points on six occasions.

Los Blancos also dominate the statistics on the goalscoring front, having scored 109 of the 148 goals seen in the fixture over the years, averaging out at 73.6%, conceding just 39 against Los Franjiverdes.

Elche have never beaten Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in 21 attempts, with the home side prevailing 18 times and the remaining three games ending in draws, continuing this consistency will be key for Real on Saturday.

Zidane's side are unbeaten in their last seven games, will this be extended to eight come Saturday night?

We've taken a look at two classic La Liga encounters from the history of the sides.

Memorable matches

Real Madrid 5-1 Elche

La Liga

September 23, 2014

In a stunning game that truly captured his magnificent decade-long stint in the Spanish capital, Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals in a single game as a rampant Real side thrashed Elche 5-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ronaldo's involvement was slightly limited in the opening 20 minutes - Elche's early lead was cancelled out by Welsh winger Gareth Bale in a lively start - but the next 70 was undoubtedly a one man show.

Opening his account with a penalty, the illustrious Portuguese forward put Madrid ahead from the spot before further extending their lead with a thunderous header just nine minutes later.

Mirroring his first-half heroics, CR7 put the game beyond doubt in the final 15 minutes, completing his hat-trick with a penalty, adding a fourth in injury time to summarise a wondrous result for the hosts.

Four goals for Ronaldo meant he had scored seven goals in four days after bagging a hat-trick against Deportivo La Coruna.

Elche 0-2 Real Madrid

La Liga

February 22, 2015

A routine victory at the Estadio Martinez Valero propelled Los Blancos four points clear of rivals Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table thanks to two second-half strikes from Benzema and Ronaldo.

The first-half scoreline was not representative of Real's dominance, persistence and energy as they missed a flurry of big chances to keep the tie goalless as they headed for the away dressing room at half-time, but their patience proved a virtue in the second.

After Elche failed to deal with a low-drilled cross from Ronaldo, Benzema capitalised on the defensive mix-up to put the visitors in-front with a simple finish in the 56th minute.

The second goal proved to be decisive and came less than 15 minutes later from a trademark moment of Ronaldo magic in the 69th, as the Portuguese international colossally leaped to meet an Isco header and double Los Blancos' lead.

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo looks to undo European misery, starting a late Juve title push against Cagliari

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