Los Blancos’ hope to defend the title is simply not depending on their own hand only, but their neighbour and contender, Atletico Madrid. What’s more, the challenge gets even harder as they will have to face off the current Europa League finalist, Villareal, which has been in-form lately with their ace Gerard Moreno. Zidane’s men’s victory here is not enough to clinch the title if the league leader wins or muster a draw. Only a four-goal triumphant win could capitalise their dream to retain the silverware.
Both teams’ previous games
Real Madrid was rather lucky to be able to snatch a narrow win over Athletic Bilbao on the road last weekend. Their only goal came through Nacho’s unintentional tap into the back of the net. The red card for Raul Garcia supposedly gave more advantage for Karim Benzema and Co but they were unable to extend their lead. What’s worse, Marcelino’s side’s attacking lines lacked of clinical finish to find the equaliser.
The Yellow Submarines managed to outclass Sevilla 4-0 last weekend. The veteran striker Carlos Bacca netted a hattrick with Gerarrd Moreno’s twenty third goal among them. It is enough to level their points to Real Betis and just one point below Real Sociedad on the fifth in the standings.
Zinedine Zidane is still likely to opt for 4-3-3 formation although the crisis on the defence line is looming. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal, Lucas Vasquez and Ferland Mendy are still injured, plus Toni Kroos. On the backline, Eder Militao and Nacho will be the main option with Alvaro Odriozola and Miguel Guiterrez as the wing backs, whereas on the attack, Benzema is still the main forward accompanied by Rodrygo and Marco Asencio or Vinicius Junior.
Meanwhile, Unai Emery is in dilemma since his team is scheduled for another big game, their first European final, the Europa League last match against Manchester United. Naturally, he could rotate the squad for a chance of the club’s first continental silverware. Yet, the former Arsenal boss could not simply waste the opportunity to seal one safe place in Europa League next season as they are eyeing for the fifth place. Villareal might still deploy 4-4-2 formation but his aces such as Gerarrd Moreno, Moi Gomez and Daniel Parejo will probably be rested and might only come off at the second half. Carlos Bacca might feature again upfront alongside Yeremi Pino. Three names in their squad are ruled out here, sadly including Samuel Chukwueze beside Juan Foyth and Vicente Iborra.
Players to watch
The Frenchman Karim Benzema, who has just earned his first national call-up for a major tournament since World Cup 2014, is still behind Messi on the top scorer list with 22 goals and eight assist. Another key man to watch is Luka Modric and the Brasilian versatile midfielder, Casemiro.
In Villareal, if Moreno is sidelined first, Carlos Bacca will be expected to score again after his hattrick in the previous outing. The Colombian international has only scored five goals this season. Another notable name to watch is Manu Trigueros with one goal and seven assists.
Real Madrid vs Villareal Prediction
Los Merengues should be able to win here, considering Villareal’s tight fixture for their first continental final in the midweek. It would be too risky for Unai Emery’s side to play their key men here for 90 minutes. Thus, Real Madrid will still come out as a winner.