Estadio El Madrigal,
27 September 2014, 13:30 GMT
Real Madrid face Villarreal away from home. The visitors are in top form after scoring 18 goals in their last three games.
After a horrible start to their campaign, Real Madrid seem to have finally found form as ‘Los Blancos’ scored 18 goals in their last 3 games. Real Madrid are looking stronger than ever in attack and new signings Kroos and James Rodriguez have adapted very well. Real Madrid had are a slow start to their campaign as they fell to two back-to-back defeats against Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad. Real Madrid struggled defensively in both games and the players looked lost. But the Champions League winners have recovered well as they grabbed 3 consecutive wins in a span of just a week. Currently placed 6th in the league table a win would see them go 4th above Celta Vigo.
Villarreal come into the game after playing out a 1-1 draw against Eibar in the mid-week fixture. Villarreal have had a mixed campaign so far in the league having won 2 out of their 5 games but only losing once against Barcelona courtesy a late winner from Sandro. Villarreal’s back four are bound to have a tough time defending against the Real Madrid attack which has been menacing so far. Though Villarreal don’t look as dangerous as they did last season, beating them at their own fortress, El Madrigal will not be a cakewalk for Real Madrid.
Team news and tactics
Neither Villarreal nor Real Madrid are the greatest teams when it comes to defending. Swift counter-attacks and exploiting Real Madrid’s weak point when it comes to defending set pieces will be on Villarreal manager Marcelino’s agenda to beat ‘Los Blancos’ at El Madrigal. Villarreal will not sit back and will try to make most of their opportunities by starting to play attacking football from the very start. An early goal is what they will be aiming for to add the pressure on Real Madrid. They might succeed as Real Madrid have conceded the first goal in 2 of their 5 league games so far. Villareal have done well at home in the past and they held Real Madrid last season at this very ground in a game which ended 2-2 with Gareth Bale scoring on his debut.
Giovani Dos Santos remains the biggest concern for Villarreal as the forward is suffering from a torn calf muscle. Full back Bojan Jokic’s knee problems will keep him out of the game along with Jaume Costa and Pablo Iniguez. Real Madrid loanee Denis Cheryshev will also be missed as Villarreal have refused to cough up the money required to allow him to play.
Predicted Line-Up (4-4-2) – Sergio Asenjo; Gaspar, Musacchio, Paulista, Rukavina; Tomas Pina, Gonzalez, dos Santos, Vietto; Gerard Moreno, Uche;
Real Madrid’s strength remains in their attack. Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale and James Rodriguez are fine form and are bursting with energy at the moment. Ancelotti will be looking to kill the opponents early by scoring as many goals possible in the first half and slowing down the pace in the second. On paper, Real Madrid are stronger than ever and their attack should have no problems in crushing Villarreal. However, games are not played on paper and playing at the Villarreal home has always been a tough task for the visitors. Real Madrid’s defence remains the Achilles’ heel as ‘Los Blancos’ have conceded nine goals in just 5 league games. Real Madrid need a strong defensive presence in the midfield and after a fine performance in the mid-week game, it will be no surprise to see Illarramendi providing that. Defending against Villarreal will be a tough task for the visitors and the defenders have to be alert as even the slightest mistake can be punished.
Ancelotti may be inclined to play Navas ahead of Casillas as the game is a tough one and the Costa Rican was impressive on his debut against Elche. Pepe and Coentrao join Khedira and Jesé Rodriguez on the injury list. After resting the Croatian against Elche, Ancelotti will bring back Modric in to the playing 11 along with Kroos and Illarramendi. Isco and Benzema might have to warm the bench as James Rodriguez, Bale and Ronaldo are expected to run a riot in the attack.
Predicted Line-Up (4-3-3) – Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Illarramendi, Kroos; Bale, Ronaldo, James Rodriguez;
Player to watch out for
The Portuguese is in fine form and having put to rest the rumours of a return to Manchester United and assuring that his future is at Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo is raring to go. The forward has amassed 9 goals so far in just 4 league games. The 29-year old is in the form of his life and is bound to create havoc whenever he finds the opportunity. Expecting just one goal from the no. 7 will be an insult to his abilities.