The Portuguese full-back came close to a loan move to Manchester United on transfer deadline day, but starts alongside Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe and Sergio Ramos in defence.
Angel di Maria, who was also thought to be expendable over the summer, earns another start in midfield.
Meanwhile, Manu del Moral comes into the attack for the hosts.
Elche: Herrera; Damian, Lomban, Botia, Albacar; Gil, Sanchez, Perez, Fidel; Coro, Boakye
Madrid: Diego Lopez; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Khedira, Modric; Di Maria, Isco, Ronaldo; Benzema