Real Madrid will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they travel to El Madrigal to face off against Villarreal this weekend.

After a disappointing outcome last time out, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid will be hoping to bounce back strongly and take all three points when they take on Villarreal on Sunday night in matchweek 3 of the 2019-20 La Liga.

Real Madrid started off the new season in fine fashion, registering a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo. However, the following weekend, the Merengues failed to get past Real Valladolid, as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home in what was a wasteful display.

A win on Sunday night would see Real Madrid level up on points with Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla, who occupy the top two spots in the table. And with reigning champions and arch-rivals Barcelona dropping points on Saturday, Zidane’s side would do well to capitalise on the Catalans’ misstep.

Villarreal, on the other hand, are still searching for their first victory of the season. The Yellow Submarine began their campaign with a disappointing 4-4 draw against Granada, during which they took the lead on three occasions but failed to hold on to it. Their next game ended in a 2-1 defeat to Levante, leaving them in the 15th place on the table.

Javier Calleja’s men ran Real Madrid close in both their meetings last season and will be hoping to do one better and claim all three points when Los Blancos come visiting this time out. Ahead of the exciting clash coming up on Sunday night, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Villarreal

Villarreal have a few injury concerns heading into their second home game of the season. New arrival Alberto Moreno is a major doubt for the game while Bruno Soriano and Ramiro Guerra are set to miss out as well. Right-back Ruben Pena has a thigh strain and may not be risked on Sunday night.

Andres Fernandez will be manning the goal for the Yellow Submarine and will likely be a busy man, provided Real Madrid find their clinical touch in the final third. Mario Gaspar is likely to deputise for Pena at right-back, while Xavi Quintilla should start on the left-side. Former Real Madrid man Raul Albiol will pair up with Pau Torres at the heart of the defence.

Seasoned campaigner Santi Cazorla will take up one of the two pivot positions in the middle of the park and look to pull the strings for Villarreal. The former Arsenal superstar is likely to be partnered by Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa after sitting out the last game and will be tasked with breaking up play effectively in the centre.

Youngster Samuel Chukwueze has started the season well and will be looking to build on that against Real Madrid, starting on the right flank. On the opposite side, Moi Gomez will be a potent threat as well while Vicente Iborra is likely to slot in as the No. 10 for the hosts.

Gerard Moreno has netted twice in two matches and should continue as the focal point of the Villarreal attack, with Carlos Bacca and Karl Toko Ekambi providing ammunition from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fernandez; Gaspar, Albiol, Torres, Quintilla; Zambo Anguissa, Cazorla; Chukwueze, Iborra, Gomez; Moreno

Real Madrid

Hazard still not ready (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Hazard still not ready (Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images)

Real Madrid have to make do with plenty of injuries, as a number of their star players are out on the sidelines. Headline summer signing Eden Hazard is still not fully fit and will be slowly thrust back into action, while Rodrygo is also not ready for a return on Sunday.

Isco and James Rodriguez are the latest casualties for Zidane’s side, while Brahim Diaz is also ruled out of the contest. Spanish attacker Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee for the visitors. With Keylor Navas’s future at the club surrounded by uncertainty, he might not be involved in Sunday’s game either.

Thibaut Courtois is the undisputed first-choice for Real Madrid, but needs to do better after conceding an easy goal against Valladolid last week. Dani Carvajal endured a difficult game last time out and will need to improve upon his performance at right-back, while Marcelo should continue at left-back ahead of new signing Ferland Mendy. Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos will be the two starting centre-backs.

Luka Modric is back after serving his one-match ban and should slot right back into the midfield, alongside Casemiro and Toni Kroos, who has made a decent start to the season after the disappointment of the previous campaign.

Gareth Bale is firmly back into Zidane’s scheme of things and should continue on the right flank, while Vinicius Junior should return on the left, despite his shoddy display off the bench last time out. Karim Benzema will be the man to spearhead Real Madrid’s attack, with Luka Jovic an option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Vinicius

Key Stats

  • Villarreal have won just one of their last nine La Liga home games against Real Madrid (D4 L4) – a 1-0 win that came in December 2015.
  • Real Madrid have won more La Liga games against Villarreal than any other side in the competition’s history (22).
  • Villarreal have only won one of their last six La Liga matches (D3 L2), beating Eibar 1-0 in May 2019.
  • Following a five game winless run in La Liga away from home (D2 L3), Real Madrid won their last match on the road, beating Celta de Vigo 3-1.
  • Karim Benzema has been directly involved in 12 of Real Madrid’s last 16 goals in La Liga (10 goals and two assists), 75% of his side’s total.

Player to Watch

Gareth Bale

Time to stand up and take responsibility (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

Time to stand up and take responsibility (Photo by Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images)

The Welsh wing wizard made a solid start to the new season against Celta Vigo after all the talks of him leaving the club this summer. However, Bale failed to build on that performance in the previous game against Real Valladolid, as he squandered a few chances to take his side to a victory.

So far this season, Bale has attempted eight shots at goal without finding the back of the net – the most by any player in La Liga. And he and Zidane, both will be hoping that changes on Sunday and Bale opens his goalscoring account for the season at El Madrigal.

Prediction

Villarreal 1-3 Real Madrid

Villarreal’s defence has been found wanting in both their games this season and going up against a Real Madrid side stacked with quality will not make things easier for Javier Calleja and his men.  Los Blancos will be extra-motivated to get a win in the bag after dropping points last time out and should walk away with three points, with Karim Benzema likely to be the chief instigator again.

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