Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
February 09, 2014; 19:00 GMT
Successfully getting through a fixture which, these days, resembles a mini-riot more than a game of football, Real Madrid turn their attentions to a potentially tricky fixture at home this weekend. The midweek outing against Atletico Madrid might well prove to be the shot in the arm that Los Blancos have been after for a long time. The boys from the banks of Manzanares had gotten one over their bitter rivals two times running and it might just have been a little too much to be beaten third time in a row against a team that they didn’t lose to fourteen years. A 3-0 and well deserved victory, though, set matters straight for Real Madrid and after failing to get all three points at San Mames last week, they will be hoping to turn things around as the three-way race for La Liga well and truly hots up.
Villarreal’s inconsistent form continues, but a few early season results and some luck have ensured that they remain in contention for a Champion League spot. For a club that suffered a horrendous season a couple of year ago, lost its star players and lost their new manager to a heart attack, the Yellow Submarine has bounced back well. Los Amarillos will also take heart from their spectacular performance against Real Madrid in the pulsating reverse fixture early this season that ended in a draw.
Real Madrid – Team news, Lineup and Formation
In the latest news that has been coming in, the Spanish Football Association’s Appeals Committee has upheld the 3-match ban on Cristiano Ronaldo. In what can only be described as farcical, the Referees’ technical committee has put the referee of the ill-tempered clash with Athletic Bilbao ‘on ice’ for a month in what is all but a clear acknowledgment of the ref’s mistake in sending off Ronaldo and yet, the 3-match ban stands. Only logical conclusion, Spanish don’t like the Portuguese! Ronaldo will now miss the next three La Liga fixtures against Villarreal, Elche CF and Getafe.
Even so, Carlo Ancelotti isn’t likely to lose too many nights’ sleep with so many of his squad stepping up their game in recent weeks. None, however, has shone brighten than La Fabrica’s graduate Jese Rodriguez. The young Spaniard has been nothing sort of sensational in the last few weeks and has the impressive record of six goals and five assists; nothing short of spectacular for a newcomer and someone who has mostly made substitute appearances. Gareth Bale will also return to the starting line-up after a minor injury layoff.
At the back, Diego Lopez will resume his duties between the posts after he made way for Iker Casillas in the Copa Del Ray. The rotation policy at right back is likely to continue and Dani Carvajal will take the spot in place of Alvaro Arbeloa, while Coentrao will make way for Marcelo at left-back. The midfield trio of Alonso, Modric and Di Maria will continue unchanged.
Villarreal primarily prefer to play in a 4-4-2 formation, which could mean trouble for Xabi Alonso, yet again. He was hounded by Bilbao last weekend and being the focal point of Real Madrid’s setup, he could be the target again for a side that employs an attacking brand of football and plays at a good tempo. They did it at El Madrigal, pressing Real Madrid when without possession, and as a counter to that, we might see Los Blancos switching to the old 4-2-3-1 at times with Modric dropping slightly deep to help out Alonso and Di Maria moving forward to stretch Villarreal on the flanks.
The centre of all attention, however, will be Jese who will be expected to maintain his fine run of form and fill the void left empty by Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence. Big shoes to fill!
Expected Line-ups (4-3-3): Lopez (GK); Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Alonso, Di Maria; Bale, Benzema, Jese
Villarreal – Team news, Lineup and Formation
Villarreal are facing an injury crisis which sees several first teamers and important players on the sidelines. Coach Marcelino has, however, stated that his team will go out to win at the Santiago Bernabéu. Even though the reverse fixture is always a sign of things, the visitors’ form has been anything but consistent. They are 5th in the table, three behind the Champions League spot but they haven’t managed to put together two wins on the trot since August. They will also be missing the inspirational number 10 Cani.
With Nigerian forward Ikechukwu Uche also missing, Frenchman Jeremy Perbet will partner Giovani dos Santos up front. In a good bit of news, influential captain Bruno Soriano will make his return to the squad after missing the 3-1 victory over Osasuna due to suspension. He will partner Manu Trigueros in the midfield by replacing Tomas Pina, who now in turn will serve his suspension. Elsewhere, Marcelino is likely to put out pretty much the same squad in a 4-4-2 formation, as last weekend.
Expected Line-ups (4-4-2): Asenjo (GK); Mario, Paulista, Dorado, Jaume Costa; Aquino, Trigueros, Bruno, Gomez; Dos Santos, Perbet
- Real Madrid have won their last 6 home matches in La Liga
- Real Madrid have won their last 5 home matches against Villarreal in all competitions and scored 17 goals
- Jese’s stats of 6 goals and 5 assists have come in 849 minutes of featuring for Real Madrid, that is either of a goal or an assist every other game
- Cristiano Ronaldo will miss 3 La Liga games this month, but will be able to feature in Copa Del Ray and Champions League
- Real Madrid are level on points with Barcelona at 54 points and 3 points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid 3-1 Villarreal
Villarreal will walk into the Santiago Bernabeu with a positive mindset but are likely to lose out to a Real Madrid that will be high on confidence after reclaiming honour against bitter rivals Los Rojiblancos. Ronaldo’s absence would favor the visitors but it will not be enough to trouble the hosts enough.
Blast from the Past