After falling Atlético two weeks ago, Real Madrid took full advantage of their opportunity to rebound by hammering in 18 goals in the last ten days. Villarreal present a bigger challenge than Deportivo or Elche, and a win at El Madrigal would help calm any nerves fans have about Real's road form.
Ancelotti is continuing to be very tight-lipped about who will be his keeper this season. During today's presser he made it clear he won't disclose who will be between the pipes until tomorrow, and he seems to be getting a little bit annoyed at constantly being asked about it. If Ancelotti sticks to his word that he'll keep rotating the squad, expect a similar lineup to that of the Elche match.
Ancelotti: "Iker and Keylor get along together. I dont know if they go & eat out together, I'm not interested. But on field they respect each other
The idea of Navas and Casillas sitting down at a fancy restaurant together on their days off is just adorable.
Villarreal will try to attack early and often, and Real Madrid cannot afford any more early hiccups from the defense. Last season Madrid took four of a possible six points from "the yellow submarine," with Giovanni dos Santos scoring in each match. Villarreal's pace and counter-attacks could be neutralized with an anchored midfield, and Ancelotti's beloved Modrić-Kroos-James trio may be too lacking in defense for this match. Then again, James' work rate in defense has been outstanding lately, so it's hard to say.
If Fábio Coentrão is fit, he'll play a big role in dealing with Villrreal's pacey wingers. Chicharito earned himself a shout at the starting lineup, but Benzema's composure and selflessness atop the formation would be useful in breaking past Villarreal's rock-solid defensive midfield. Illarra was immense against Elche, but does Ancelotti trust him enough to trot him out in a hostile environment? All of these possible lineup changes lie in whether or not Ancelotti wants to give last week's new starters more than a one-match trial.
Blood is in the water as both Atlético and Barca dropped points earlier this week. This trip to El Madrigal opens a big chance for Real to keep the pressure on them, but it won't be easy. Villarreal are great at home, and they'll get their chances.
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- Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas, Keylor Navas and Pacheco
- Defenders: Raphaël Varane, Sergio Ramos, Fábio Coentrão, Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Nacho and Álvaro Arbeloa.
- Midfielders: Toni Kroos, James Rodríguez, Isco, Asier Illarramendi, Luka Modrić
- Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Chicharito