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Madrid have beaten Elche twice this season, in two competitions and against two coaches with different styles. It was by the minimum, a recurring fact in the defeats against the greats of the Alicante team, which also lost by a sigh against Barça, Valencia, Atlético and Real Sociedad. A modest complication, then, in either of its two aspects: the tactic, which Escribá imposed, and the emotional one, brought by Francisco, the coach who has taken him out of the relegation zone.

Despite the closeness of the last duel, the one at the Bernabéu will be a different game because so will its protagonists. Until the quarterfinals, the Cup is a second course and a territory of opportunities for those who play the least. LaLiga, on the other hand, is a matter of survival. So today will be the best. Among them, Benzema and perhaps Lucas Boyé, the artillery park that Ancelotti and Francisco saved on Wednesday (follow the match live on As.com).

Benzema He is the player of the season, with 24 goals, nine assists and a regularity that has increased in his career. Ancelotti has only freed him from the Cup and has squeezed him for everything else because he has no replacement (Jovic and Mariano are lost cases) and because he has shown himself to be an extremely resistant footballer. He arrived at Madrid thirteen years ago and only once has he been out for more than a month. In the three and a half years since Cristiano left, he has only missed twelve games due to injury. Despite his 34 years of age and the fact that he has returned to play for France, an overexertion from which he was involuntarily released for more than five years, he puts up with a demanding calendar wonderfully. In this campaign he has missed four games, including, curiously, the two against Elche. Despite being the most important piece, Madrid won all four.

The ups and downs of Boyé

In his mirror he looks Lucas Boye. “Benzema drives me crazy. For me he is the best nine in the world. When you see him leave the area, if you don’t understand much about football, you might think: ‘But what is he doing there? To score a goal you have to be close to the goal!’ When Benzema leaves the area it is because he is going to give more clarity to the play”, he explained this week to El País. Boyé is also a late blaster. At 25 years old he has already played for seven teams from five different countries. Powerful striker, he grew up in the River Plate youth academy, a team to which he has proposed to return.”I always admired Falcao, our nine when he was in the youth teams.”He debuted in the First Division at the age of 17 and, after a loan to Newell’s, signed at the age of 20 for Torino, who got ahead of Roma in the negotiation.Everything has been uphill since then. Mihajlovic, coach of the Italians, stopped lining him up and began to chain unproductive assignments: Celta (covered by the Maxi-Aspas couple, played 13 games and was unable to score), AEK, Reading and finally Elche, in the summer of 2020, where you found your site. He scored eight goals the first year and the Alicante club made effective his purchase option for two million when he was not even saved. In this course he has six.

Lucas Boyé celebrates his last goal with Elche, against Villarreal.

The coronavirus left Lucas Boyé out in three games just after the Christmas break, but he reappeared with a decisive goal (his goals have given the team five points) against Villarreal. All in the midst of Barça’s interest in his signing. Elche, until now, has referred to its clause, 25 million. And in Argentina there are already voices that claim him for the national team. Some discomfort in the ankle advised Francisco to avoid the Cup match, but today he could be or have minutes in an improved team with the changes as far as possible, because COVID keeps Josema, Pastore, Mascarell and Barragán out, these last two regular starters. The injured Bigas, Roco, Marcone and Carrillo will not be able to travel either. And to this day it is not known if Francisco and Jaime Ramos, his first assistant, also infected and still positive yesterday, will be able to do it.

The Holy Trinity

It is likely that the coach, who calls up five players from the reserve team, will dismantle a large part of the Cup eleven to make room for players he trusts such as Verdú, Pere Milla or Tete Morente. What he will not touch is the 4-4-2 that has allowed him to leave the relegation zone to seek the never seen, a victory for Elche at the Bernabéu. So far twenty losses and four draws in 24 visits.

Hazard, who will start today, in Valdebebas.

Madrid will also be more recognizable, recovering Courtois, Militao and Benzema, absent at Martínez Valero. In exchange, he loses the sanctioned Marcelo. Ancelotti will bring together Modric, Casemiro and Kroos, who is the mother of the lamb: of fifteen games that have coincided as starters this year, Madrid has won fourteen. In Elche he left the Croatian and the Brazilian on the bench and needed them at the end for the comeback. And above, with Asensio still out, Hazard will start for the ninth time this season. In favor of the public, classification and the decisive goal, it seems easier to apply an inclusive policy. It is valid for him, for Ceballos, for Isco…