Thursday, January 17, 2019

Prediction: Villarreal vs Real Madrid

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals scored – yes

Best Odds: 7/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

After the New Year break, La Liga returns to action this Thursday with a thrilling match between Real Madrid and Villarreal. This fixture is a postponed one due to Real Madrid’s presence in the FIFA Club World Cup, and it finds both sides on opposite ends of the standings. Kick-off is scheduled for this Thursday at 20:30 BST.

Villarreal

El Submarino Amarillo have played far below their pre-season expectations and if the season ended today, they would be relegated. Thus far, Luis Garcia’s men sit in 18th place in the standings with 15 points (W3, D6, L7), and their recent five-game form shouldn’t inspire a lot of confidence since they have won just one of those (W1, D2, L2) while currently being amid a three-game winless streak (D1, L2). One would think that Villarreal would have some sort of edge here since they will play at home, but that shouldn’t be the case. Their home form reads W1, D3, L4, although to be fair, they have taken points in three of their most recent five home outings (W1, D2, L2). Both their recent and season-long form shouldn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but the team is talented enough to bounce back and perform at a higher level. And perhaps defeating Real Madrid could be just what they need to gain the morale boost they have been looking for.

Team News

Mario Gaspar (suspension) and Manuel Iturra (muscular injury) have both been ruled out ahead of this tie.

Meanwhile, three others are doubtful. Mariano Barbosa (back), Bruno (knee) and Miguel Juan Llambrich (shoulder) are all doubtful.

Real Madrid

On the other hand, Los Merengues enter this game with their morale at a season-high mark since they are coming off a title-winning campaign in the FIFA Club World Cup. But if we focus entirely on league play, then we can see that the Madrid-based side have also been on the rise in recent weeks. Despite the fact they started the season on the low with Julen Lopetegui, newly-appointed manager Santiago Solari has lifted the side back where they belong. Through their past five league outings, Los Merengues own a W4, L1 mark and they are also riding a three-game winning streak. This has them in fourth place of the standings with 29 points (W9, D2, L5), although they remain eight points off the league leaders, FC Barcelona. Their away form has been quite poor, though, with only three wins out of eight matches (W3, D1, L4). They must shake off their road woes and secure the three points here. Otherwise, their chances of lifting the title could become even more complicated. Even if we are only in the middle stretch of the campaign.

Team News

Solari will have to deal with four absences ahead of this match.

Marco Asensio (thigh), Mariano Diaz (back), Marcos Llorente (groin) and Nacho (knee) have all been ruled out of this contest.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Villarreal have a W1, D2, L2 record in their last five home outings. Real Madrid are currently riding a W2, L3 mark in their previous five league away matches.
  • Los Blancos have the edge on the H2H department with W2, D2, L1. However, they have not won in their past two against El Submarino Amarillo (D1, L1).
  • Four of the last five meetings between these two sides have ended with both sides scoring. Three of those five have also seen over 2.5 goals scored.
  • Despite their away woes, there’s a silver lining for Real Madrid. Counting all competitions, they have gone W4, L1 in their previous five away contests.

Conclusion

Real Madrid have been playing far better since the appointment of Santiago Solari, and they have looked solid of late. They looked quite dangerous in the FIFA Club World Cup, and could exploit Villarreal’s poor defence in this one.

With that in mind, I believe there will be over 3.5 goals scored in this game.

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals scored – yes

Best Odds: 7/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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