Villarreal v Real Madrid – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets
By BET Contributor
Villarreal welcome Real Madrid to the Estadio de la Cerámica on Saturday evening with a two point lead over Los Blancos albeit with Zinedine Zidane’s side having played a match less. Villarreal are nine matches unbeaten under Unai Emery and Madrid are looking to bounce back from a 4-1 thrashing against Valencia.
Under Emery, who was ridiculed after his spell at Arsenal, Villarreal sit second in La Liga with five wins and three draws from their first nine matches. Their only league defeat this term came away at Barcelona (4-0) but four wins and two draws have followed.
In the Europa League, Emery’s side have won all three of their matches. In their last game, Villarreal won 3-1 at Getafe as Paco Alcacer, Manu Trigueros and Gerard Moreno scored the goals. At home, Villarreal have won five of their last six in La Liga
Villareal Team News
The one major injury to contend with is that of left back Alberto Moreno, who will be out long-term after rupturing his cruciate ligament. In attack, Paco Alcacer has been on fire this season with nine goals in 11 appearances so far. The team has a strong defensive base with veteran Raul Albiol being partnered by Pau Torres, who has started Spain’s last six competitive matches.
Villarreal look to attack and have scored two or more goals in their last four home league matches. The last four occasions when Villarreal has hosted Real Madrid has seen at least four goals per game.
Emery saw his side get thrashed 4-0 by Barcelona earlier this season so will want to keep pace at the top of La Liga with a win, but a draw would also be a very positive result.
Real Madrid Form
Zidane’s side are having a strange season. Having surprisingly lost at home to both Cadiz (La Liga) and Shakhtar Donetsk (UEFA Champions League), they bounced back with three wins and a draw, scoring 12 goals in the process in their next four.
That run included a 3-1 win at Barcelona and an important 3-2 win against Inter Milan but that game seemingly took a lot out of the side as they subsequently took a 4-1 thrashing at Valencia. Madrid conceded three penalties and an own goal after leading 1-0 in the game. That ended a nine game unbeaten run on the road in La Liga.
Real Madrid Team News
Eden Hazard and Casemiro both missed the international break after positive Covid-19 tests and whilst the latter tested negative, Hazard is still in isolation, as is Eder Militão. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane picked up knocks on international duty – the captain hurt his hamstring and Varane has a shoulder issue – and both need scans ahead of this match.
Karim Benzema had to go off against Valencia and may need to be left on the bench for this game with Inter Milan on the horizon, whilst all of Nacho, Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola are doubtful in defence. Federico Valverde is also out injured in central midfield.
Real Madrid Motivation
Zidane will want to win this game but with the injury problems he is facing, plus a key trip to Inter Milan in midweek, focus may not be fully on this match. A defeat would lead to major question marks so he could be quite satisfied to take a draw and move on to the Champions League clash with some players hopefully closer to returning to fitness.
Real Madrid are nine game unbeaten away from (7W, 2D – La Liga)
Real Madrid have scored 12 goals in their last 4 matches (all competitions)
Valencia have won none of their last 4 matches (La Liga)
Valencia have lost 3 of their last 4 matches (La Liga)
Valencia have conceded 8 goals in their last 4 matches (La Liga)
Valencia have won none of their last 3 home matches (La Liga)
Valencia have gone six home matches without a clean sheet (La Liga)
Valencia look to be in bad shape and lost another pivotal player this week in Geoffrey Kondogbia. Real Madrid should win this game and I am backing them to do so with a clean sheet and with Karim Benzema continuing his hot run of form.