Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Sunday, 1st March, 20:00 GMT
Real Madrid host Villarreal at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu this weekend as the look to strengthen their position at the top of the league table.
Real Madrid continue their La Liga campaign as they host Villarreal on Sunday. Los Blancos are the leaders in La Liga, four points clear off second placed Barcelona. The Spanish giants will be looking to get the three points against Villarreal and maintain the gap at the top as the El Clasico comes nearer with every passing game-week. Carlo Ancelotti will be expecting his team to win this game, though not as easily as they would like. It will be a stern test, but Real Madrid are on song and are definitely the favourites to win the three points.
The visiting, Villarreal, face a tough barrier in the form of Real Madrid as they attempt to end the season in the top four and achieve Champions League qualification this season. Sixth-placed Villarreal are one point behind fifth-place Sevilla and six points behind fourth-place Valencia. A win seems unlikely at the Bernabeu for the a Yellow Submarinea and a defeat will might see them dropping to the seventh place as Malaga are lurking just two points behind Villarreal. While the odds might not favour the away side to win at the Bernabeu, Villarreal are just the kind of team which can cause an upset by beating Real Madrid at their home turf.
Team News and Tactics
Real Madrid have recaptured their form after the 4-0 defeat to Atletico at the Vicente Calderon. Since the game against Atletico, Real Madrid have won three games on a trot a all with a scoreline of 2-0. Also, Real Madrid are highly consistent when they face Villarreal as the home side has only drawn two and won seven games in the last nine meetings. Ancelotti will be looking at this game as a way to get the confidence back in his camp and bring back to the free-scoring ways that were displayed by Real Madrid in the first half of the season. Expect a highly attacking game from Real Madrid where, Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema go all guns blazing, upfront.
Real Madrida s injury crisis hasna t come to an end yet as many of their main players are yet to reach full fitness. Modric has returned to training but is not expected to get minutes on Sunday as Kroos, Isco and Lucas Silva will feature in the midfield. Fabio Coentrao is available for selection but is expected to start the game from the bench. Sergio Ramos and James Rodriguez are still out, nursing their injuries. Iker Casillas is expected to lead the side whilst manning the goal.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Casillas; Carvajal, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Silva, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo;
Villarreal come into the game on the back of a 3-1 victory in Austria in the Europa League. The win means that Villarreal are through to the round-of-16 in the competition and will face Sevilla in the next round. Having played on Thursday, the Villarreal players have not received much rest and will be facing a tough task trying to contain a well-rested and in-form, Real Madrid. Villarreal will have to defend well, especially on the wings as they look to stop the Real Madrid juggernaut, which usually creates most of their chances from the flanks. Villarreal have not won away from home in the league in their last four matches, but their previous victory before that run came at champions Atletico a so it will not be completely hopeless to expect Villarreal to cause an upset on Sunday.
Luciano Vietto, who scored twice on Thursday, is surely expected to start the game upfront. Denis Cheryshev will not be playing against his parent club due to a clause in his contract which disallows him to. Mario Gaspar, Bruno Soriano, Adrian Marin and Bojan Jokic are all expected to miss the game at the Bernabeu.
Probable starting Line-up (4-4-2):Sergio Asenjo; Rukavina, Musacchio, Ruiz, Jaume Costa; J. dos Santos, Pina, Trigueros, G. dos Santos; Vietto, Uche;
Real Madrid 3-1 Villarreal
While Real Madrid are the favourites to win this home game, Villarreal will definitely do their best to give the home side a hard fight. However, having well-rested and slowly regaining their confidence, Real Madrid are bound to dominate most aspects of the game. A victory seems highly likely for Real Madrid, but one should not be betting on a vast goal difference.