MX23RW : Friday, September 24 18:14:45| >> :60:1008:1008:
Jul 16, 2020 at 8pm UK at Santiago Bernabeu
Real MadridReal Madrid
Benzema (29', 77' pen.)
Carvajal (54'), Modric (62'), Isco (86')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Iborra (83')
Chakla (18'), Quintilla (68')

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

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

Real Madrid will welcome Villarreal to the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium on Thursday night knowing that a win would see them win the 2019-20 La Liga title.

Los Blancos are currently four points clear of second-placed Barcelona in the table with two games left, but it will not be an easy task against a Villarreal side that have been in impressive form since returning to action.

Match preview

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema celebrates scoring against Granada on July 13, 2020© Reuters

Madrid made it nine La Liga victories in a row on Monday night as they ran out 2-1 winners at Granada, meaning that they only need to triumph in one of their final two league games to win the title.

Ferland Mendy and Karim Benzema scored the goals against Granada, with Zinedine Zidane's side continuing their stunning form since returning to the field last month.

Given Madrid's superior head-to-head record over Barcelona, the capital giants only actually need two points from their final two games, meaning that draws against Villarreal and Leganes would suffice.

Los Blancos will not be taking any chances, though, as they bid to win just their second La Liga title since 2012. Barca are still in the argument but are now relying on other teams to do them a favour, which is not a terrific position to be in at this stage of the campaign.

Madrid's home record this season has been excellent, winning 14 and drawing four of their 18 matches, but Villarreal have the fourth-best away record in Spain's top flight during the 2019-20 season.

What's more, Zidane's side have won just one of their last five league games against Villarreal, and the two teams played out a 2-2 draw when they locked horns in the reverse match earlier this season.

Villarreal's Pau Torres in action against Barcelona in La Liga on September 24, 2019© Reuters

Villarreal were in poor form immediately before lockdown, but the Yellow Submarine have been impressive since the restart, despite losing two of their last three games to Barcelona and Real Sociedad.

Javi Calleja's side can no longer finish in the top four as they are nine points behind fourth-placed Sevilla with three games left, but they are in control of fifth spot as they bid to return to the Europa League.

Indeed, a record of 17 wins, six draws and 13 defeats has brought them 57 points, leaving them three points clear of sixth-placed Getafe and seventh-placed Real Sociedad.

Fifth would be considered a huge success considering that they finished 14th last season, and they will fancy their chances of beating Eibar at home this weekend even if they drop points to Madrid.

Villarreal's talent, particularly in attack, means that they are more than capable of halting Zidane's side on Thursday night, which should make for a very interesting encounter in the capital.

Real Madrid La Liga form: WWWWWW

Villarreal La Liga form: DWWLWL

Team News

Real Madrid's Marcelo in action with Real Valladolid's Javi Moyano in La Liga on August 24, 2019© Reuters

Madrid will again be without the services of defenders Marcelo and Nacho against Villarreal through injury, while Luka Jovic remains a doubt, having been forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with a friend who had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Zidane otherwise has a full squad to choose from, and there are expected to be changes from the side that started against Granada, with Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard both in line to feature.

Asensio and Hazard could replace Isco and Federico Valverde in the starting XI, with Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos starting as the midfield three in a 4-3-3 formation.

Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes are also options for Zidane in the final third, although the fact that Hazard did not play against Granada suggests that the Belgian has been saved for this match.

As for Villarreal, Ramiro Funes Mori and Carlos Bacca remain on the sidelines through injury, while Mariano Barbosa is suspended.

Gerard Moreno and Vicente Iborra are both available following one-match bans, though, and the pair are expected to return to the starting XI, which would certainly boost the visitors.

Paco Alcacer is also available after injury, and there are expected to be be changes from the defeat to Sociedad last time out, with Mario Gaspar and Samuel Chukwueze also likely to make the XI.

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Hazard, Benzema, Asensio

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Asenjo; Gaspar, Albiol, Torres, Moreno; Chukwueze, Iborra, Anguissa, Cazorla; Moreno, Alcacer

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We say: Real Madrid 2-1 Villarreal

Villarreal will be boosted by the return of some key players for this match, and the visitors are certainly capable of securing a positive result. Madrid's form is stunning, though, and we expect Zidane's side to pick up the victory that they need to secure the title with one game to spare.

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Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema celebrates scoring against Granada on July 13, 2020
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