Carlo Ancelotti looks to celebrate 100 matches as Real Madrid manager with a win against Elche
Madrid, Feb 21 (IANS) Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will complete 100 games in charge of the club when his side travel to face struggling Elche on Sunday night.
Ancelotti's year-and-a-half with Real Madrid have brought a return of calm to the club following the turbulent reign of Jose Mourinho which was filled with too many controversial moments and what at times seemed like personal vendettas against players with whom he failed to see eye-to-eye, reports Xinhua.
Ancelotti's 99 games to the moment have brought 77 wins, the same as Mourinho in his first 100 games, but the Italian has won those matches with a different style of football, relying more on passing, whereas dour defence and counter-attack was favoured by the now-Chelsea coach.
While it is true that Real Madrid have not been at their best since the start of 2015 and there have even been tentative mentions of the word 'crisis', the fact is they are still top in La Liga, although that could change if Barcelona defeat Malaga on Saturday. In that case, Real would need to win in order to recover the lead.
The side received a morale boost on Wednesday when they virtually assured their place in the last eight of the Champions League with a 2-0 away win at Schalke 04. That game saw Cristiano Ronaldo rediscover his scoring boots, although some doubts still exist over his fitness as he struggles to recover from a recurring knee problem.
Pepe also returned to the side in midweek to give more stability to a defence still missing Sergio Ramos. But his partner in Germany, Rafael Varane is a doubt for Sunday after suffering a cut in his foot. If Varene doesn't recover, Nacho Fernandez will play while Alvaro Arbeloa covers at right-back.
Although Luka Modric returned to full training on Thursday, he is still lacking match fitness while Sami Khedira and Fabio Coentrao also miss out through injury. Elche are at full strength for the game following their surprise win away to Eibar last week. They are fourth from bottom in the table and battling an economic crisis, and will take a lot of confidence from a good result against Real.