MX23RW : Wednesday, June 23 22:36:49| >> :60:198:198:
Sep 1, 2019 at 8pm UK at Estadio de la Cerámica (Villarreal)
Attendance: 20,128
Villarreal
2-2
Real Madrid
Moreno (12'), Gomez (74')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Bale (45', 86')

Preview: Villarreal vs. Real Madrid - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Villarreal and Real Madrid, including team news and predicted lineups.

Real Madrid will be looking to return to winning ways in La Liga when they travel to the Estadio de la Ceramica to face Villarreal on Sunday night.

Los Blancos were held at home by Real Valladolid last time out, while Villarreal will enter the match off the back of a 2-1 loss at Levante, which followed a stunning 4-4 draw with Granada on the opening weekend.


Villarreal

Villarreal boss Javi Calleja pictured in November 2017© Reuters

There is little doubting that the 2018-19 campaign will be seen as a huge disappointing for Villarreal considering that they ended the season in 14th, which represented their lowest finish since 2011-12.

Since returning to the top flight in 2013, the Yellow Submarine have posted finishes of sixth, sixth, fourth, fifth and fifth before a disappointing 2018-19 season brought them just 44 points.

Only the three relegated clubs - Girona, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano - won fewer league games than Villarreal (10) last term, and it would be fair to say that the new season has not started too well.

Javi Calleja's side opened their campaign with a stunning 4-4 draw at home to Granada on the opening weekend. Villarreal actually led 4-2 entering the final 15 minutes of that contest before the visitors netted twice late on to ensure that the thrilling match would finish all square.

The Yellow Submarine then suffered a 2-1 loss at Levante last time out with Roger Marti scoring twice from the penalty spot. Once more, Calleja's team had the lead deep into the second half, and shipping late goals will be a concern ahead of Sunday's clash against the capital giants.

It was a busy summer for Villarreal in terms of transfers, with Ruben Pena, Raul Albiol and Alberto Moreno among those to come through the door. Meanwhile, the likes of Pablo Fornals, Roberto Soriano, Denis Cheryshev and Nicola Sansone all left the club.

Madrid will enter Sunday's match as the favourites; Villarreal have a fairly strong recent record against Los Blancos, though, losing just one of the last four league meetings between the two teams. What's more, each of the last two La Liga contests at the home of the Yellow Submarine has finished 2-2.

The hosts might well again look to Samuel Chukwueze for inspiration as the 20-year-old continues to impress. The attacker is already off the mark in the league this term, while he scored eight times in all competitions for the club during the 2018-19 campaign.

Recent form: DL


Real Madrid

Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema celebrate during Real Madrid's La Liga clash with Real Valladolid on August 24, 2019© Reuters

Madrid made an impressive start to the new La Liga season by recording a 3-1 victory at Celta Vigo on the opening weekend - in what was a potential banana-skin game, Zidane's side put on a professional performance to start their campaign with all three points.

The European giants would have been looking to put another victory on the board last weekend. Valladolid had other ideas, though, and were well worth their point at the Bernabeu. Despite dropping two points, Madrid are third in the table, with only Sevilla and Atletico Madrid winning both of their games thus far.

Injuries to key attackers in the early stages of the season have seen Gareth Bale take on an important role at the club. The Wales international was widely expected to leave the Bernabeu during the summer but is now needed to play a part for the club in the coming weeks.

Bale was quiet against Valladolid after impressing against Celta, but the former Tottenham Hotspur attacker will be feeling much better about his position at the club. The 30-year-old will again be needed this weekend with the likes of Eden Hazard still unavailable for selection.

It seems unlikely that either Paris Saint-Germain attacker Neymar or Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba will arrive before Monday's European transfer deadline, and Zidane is said to be furious with his club for failing to sign the latter during this summer's window.

Alphonse Areola could arrive at the Bernabeu as part of a swap for Keylor Navas ahead of Monday's deadline, although there are not expected to be any further deals. Whether the team have enough to challenge for La Liga this season remains to be seen, and it will be very interesting to see how the campaign develops.

In terms of what is ahead, Madrid will host Levante in their first game after the international break before the small matter of a trip to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on September 18. The month will then finish with league games against Sevilla, Osasuna and Atletico Madrid.

Zidane will certainly be looking for an improvement from his side this weekend following the draw with Valladolid, and it is vital that the team return to winning ways ahead of the international break.

Recent form: WD


Team News

Eden Hazard in action for Real Madrid on July 30, 2019© Reuters

Villarreal will again be without the services of Bruno Soriano and Ruben Pena through injury, while summer arrival Alberto Moreno is also a doubt for the home side this weekend.

Gerard Moreno will again lead the line with support from Moi Gomez, but Calleja also has plenty of other attacking options in the shape of Carlos Bacca, Javi Ontiveros and Manu Trigueros.

There are not expected to be too many alterations from the defeat to Levante, though, with Chukwueze and Karl Toko Ekambi due to keep their spots in the wide positions.

As for Madrid, Marco Asensio remains a long-term absentee with a knee problem, while Isco and James Rodriguez have joined the likes of Brahim Diaz and Rodrygo Goes on the sidelines.

Hazard trained on Friday as the Belgium international looks to overcome a hamstring problem, although Saturday's game will come too soon for the summer arrival.

Luka Modric is available after a one-game suspension, though, and will return to join Casemiro and Toni Kroos in the middle of the park.

Bale and Vinicius Junior are expected to support Karim Benzema in the final third, with the back four and goalkeeper remaining unchanged from the draw with Valladolid.

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Gaspar, Albiol, Torres, Quintilla; Cazorla, Iborra; Ekambi, Gomez, Chukwueze; Moreno

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Vinicius


Head To Head

Madrid recorded a 3-2 win when the two teams last met at the Bernabeu in May. However, as mentioned, each of the last two La Liga games at the home of Villarreal have finished 2-2.

Los Blancos have not actually won away to the Yellow Submarine in La Liga since February 2017, which was their first away success in this fixture since September 2014.

That said, Villarreal have not beaten the capital giants on home soil in the league since December 2015, when Roberto Soldado - now with Granada - scored the only goal of the game.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Villarreal 1-2 Real Madrid

Madrid have not exactly made a flying start to the season despite a decent return in terms of points. Zidane's side are also missing a number of key players for this game. That said, we expect the visitors to have just about enough to record a narrow victory at the Estadio de la Ceramica.



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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CAtletico MadridAtletico38268467254286
2Real Madrid38259467283984
3Barcelona38247785384779
4Sevilla38245953332077
5Real Sociedad3817111059382162
6Real Betis381710115050061
7Villarreal3815131060441658
8Celta Vigo381411135557-253
9Granada38137184765-1846
10Athletic Bilbao381113144642446
11Osasuna381111163748-1144
12CadizCadiz381111163658-2244
13Valencia381013155053-343
14Levante38914154657-1141
15Getafe38911182843-1538
16AlavesAlaves38911183657-2138
17ElcheElche38812183455-2136
RHuesca38713183453-1934
RReal Valladolid38516173457-2331
REibarEibar38612202952-2330

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