Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Prediction: Real Madrid vs Villarreal


Verdict: Under 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 23/20

Bookmaker: William Hill

Out-of-sorts Real Madrid desperately need to return to winning ways after several disappointing results, but they will not have an easy job against revived Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine did lose star striker Cedric Bakambu, but they’ve got plenty of quality throughout the squad and head to Santiago Bernabeu in good spirits.

Real Madrid

It is now clear that this team peaked last season, when they lifted Champions League and La Liga trophies, whereas los Blancos have been utterly disappointing this term. With Cristiano Ronaldo apparently past his prime and Karim Benzema still struggling up front, Real Madrid have left a lot to be desired in most games this season and they now trail La Liga leaders Barcelona huge 16 points. Back to back league setbacks against the Catalans and Celta Vigo were followed by 2-2 draw with minnows Numancia in Copa del Rey, and it is perfectly clear the players are completely out of confidence at the moment. Even though the league title has already been lost, los Blancos need to return to winning ways quickly and ensure they improve their spirits ahead of the crucial stage of the season. Real Madrid haven’t been too impressive at home this season, so we are definitely not tempted by the 1/4 price offered on home win, but we do expect Zinedine Zidane’s side to finally show some improvement and record a convincing victory over strong opposition. With two of their last three meetings at the Bernabeu ending all squared (1-1, 1-1), Villarreal should definitely not be written off.

Team News

Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Luca Zidane remain in the treatment room, but there are no other worries for Zinedine Zidane.

Villarreal

Having spent his entire coaching career at the club, being in charge of U19, U23 and reserve sides, Javi Calleja was finally promoted to the senior set-up in September 2017 and he has grabbed his chance with both hands. The talented coach has led the team to La Liga top 6 and Europa League Last 32 stage, albeit being eliminated from Copa del Rey. With the club having decided to cash in on star striker Cedric Bakambu, Calleja decided to recall talented forward Enes Unal from the loan spell at Levante and the youngster managed to score on his return, proving he could establish a very good partnership with Carlos Bacca. The Yellow Submarine still have a number of important players on the sidelines, but they are coping to the best of their abilities and we expect them to further improve the standard of their performances once the injured players start coming back. Roger Martinez has also arrived from Jiangsu Suning to help compensate for the departure of Cedric Bakambu, and we expect Villarreal to give out-of-form Real Madrid a run for their money on Saturday evening.

Team News

Important midfielder Manu Trigueros returns from suspension, but Roberto Soriano, Bruno Soriano, Andres Fernandez, Ruben Semedo and Leonardo Suarez remain sidelined.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Villarreal avoided defeat in two of last three matches at Santiago Bernabeu
  • Real Madrid won other 7 of their last 9 meetings in Madrid
  • Under 2.5 goals were scored in 4 of their last 6 meetings
  • Ronaldo and Benzema scored 6 league goals between them this term
  • Villarreal top scorer has left the club

Conclusion

Real Madrid players are quite low on confidence after a poor run of results and they will not have an easy job against very good Villarreal side, who did stay without their top scorer. Looking at their previous meetings in Madrid, we expect the trend of low-scoring games to continue.

Verdict: Under 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 23/20

Bookmaker: William Hill

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