Real Madrid return to action on Thursday after their Christmas break, their first match since the Club World Cup win on the 22nd of December. Real make the first trip to the Cerámica this season, where they drew 2-2 the last time these two clubs met here.
Real are currently fourth in LaLiga with 29 points on the season, however both Real and Villarreal have played one less match than the other Spanish clubs which Thursday’s match will make up for. Villarreal are in the relegation zone currently at 18th with 15 points, just one point behind Bilbao.
This is a big match for both clubs. Real start back from a fairly long break right out on the road, while Villarreal are trying to do the same while also trying to avoid relegation the rest of this season. A trip to Villarreal is never easy, but this is an opportunity for Real to continue their title hopes and get a win before they play again on Sunday.
Real Madrid will be without Asensio, Llorente, and Mariano, who all reportedly missed training ahead of Thursday’s match.
Villarreal will likely be without Miguelón, while they remain without Bruno Soriano who has been out of action since July 2017. They will also be without Mario Gaspar, who picked up a red in their last match against Huesca.
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Vazquez, Bale, Benzema
With Llorente now injured, it surely ensures that Casemiro will return to his starting place in the Madrid midfield. While Casemiro was out, Llorente filled his spot perfectly and has really given Solari a decision to make between the two. Unfortunately, Llorente’s injury forces Solari to make a clear choice.
Vazquez will likely start with Asensio out. Benzema will start as well, this likely wouldn’t have been any different even if Mariano was available.
Asenjo; Layun, Gonzalez, Funes, Costa; Chukwueze, Caseres, Trigueros, Fornals; Moreno, Bacca
Real Madrid-Villarreal 2-1
As mentioned before, a trip against Villarreal, especially after a long break, is never an easy task. Real will have to make sure they bring their best after rest to make sure they make this pickup match indeed counts towards their favor. This match can also help them figure out where they are going into this new year since they play again over the weekend.
Don’t let their position in the standings fool you Villarreal are still a dangerous team to play, especially when Real have to make the trip. It will be interesting to see how Real match up coming back to action and how they deal with Villarreal. Another clear point to watch on Thursday is Casemiro in his first match return since injury.