Football

Cristiano Ronaldo can return to top form against Elche

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Real Madrid travel to Elche on Sunday looking to maintain the one point gap that they hold over closest chasers Barcelona.

Depending on the result from Catalonia on the previous day, Real could start the match in second place, a position they haven't occupied since the early stages of the season.

No further motivation will be required for Carlo Ancelotti and co. to get the result required at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.

The hosts have built a slender gap between themselves and the bottom three in the Spanish top flight and a surprise result here will further help their plight of staying in the division.

Let's take a look at three things that could shape the outcome of this one.

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Ronaldo's poor form can't continue

It seems odd that we are talking about a players poor form when he hasn't scored for just three games.

But such is the standard that Ronaldo has set that his current malaise can be seen as a real dip for the Portuguese.

His goal against Schalke aside, the player has looked nothing like his old self recently.

Free kicks have been woefully off target, he hasn't celebrated goals scored by his team mates, and for all intents and purposes he looks a little disinterested.

That can't, and won't, continue. It could get embarrassing for Elche if they fail to man mark him throughout.

Home advantage?

Let's be honest. Not many supporters will give Elche much hope of getting a result against a star-studded Los Blancos line up.

But the last game at this venue remained goalless until the second half with the hosts acquitting themselves well against a vasty superior outfit.

If Jonathas can get in amongst it in the early stages and perhaps snatch a goal then there's every chance the home side can produce a backs-against-the-wall performance to frustrate the visitors.

Four wins from the last seven in all competitions is the best current form of the sides toward the bottom of the table. Stranger things have happened...

Kroos the key for Real

Toni Kroos quickly put to bed any question that Real would suffer from the departure of Xabi Alonso, by turning in some high-quality performances of his own.

Alongside Ronaldo, the German has been Los Blancos' stand out player and his ability to pick a pass and bring team mates into play will be crucial in Real taking the points here.

If Elche can isolate Kroos and force him further back, his influence is minimised somewhat.

Give him freedom and he will punish you. Every time. Elche have been warned.

How many goals will Real Madrid score past Elche? Post your score predictions in the comments below.

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Topics:
James Rodriguez
Football
La Liga
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
Toni Kroos
Karim Benzema
Gareth Bale

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