Real Madrid return to action as they head on the road to the Estadio de la Cerámica for a rare second trip this season on Saturday.
Real already played a La Liga match at Villarreal’s home stadium this season when they faced Levante back in October. The Ciutat de Valencia, Levante’s home stadium, was under renovations.
Now, Real look for a second win at this exact same stadium against an even more formidable opponent in Villarreal. El Submarino Amarillo has won three of their last five matches in La Liga. They haven’t lost a league match since the end of September and are currently second in the league table.
Los Blancos are currently fourth in the league, just two points trailing Villarreal and four behind league-leading Real Sociedad. Real lost their last match against Valencia before the international break. They’ve lost two of their last four league matches, while winning the other three in that span.
Real Madrid have faired well at the Cerámica, losing only one of their last ten matches played away in Castellón. Real will once again look to take points away from the second-best team in Spain currently.
Real Madrid will be lacking some serious depth as they will be without Eder Militão, Alvaro Odriozola, Sergio Ramos, Casemiro, Fede Valverde, Luka Jović and Karim Benzema.
Villarreal will be without left back Alberto Moreno due to injury.
There are no suspensions for either side in Saturday’s top four battle.
Asenjo; Mario, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Parejo, Iborra, Trigueros; Moreno, Gómez, Alcácer
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modrić, Ødegaard, Kroos; Asensio, Hazard, Mariano
There’s several big hits to the Real Madrid starting lineup that will be hard to overcome against a top team like Villarreal.
While getting Carvajal back is a huge boost, losing Sergio Ramos for any amount of time is devastating to Real’s backline.
It doesn’t get any better defensively in the midfield as both Casemiro and Valverde are out as well. Zidane will have to get creative with both out but he does have Ødegaard back from injury and Isco as options.
Getting Eden Hazard back as well is big, especially with the team’s top scorer Benzema missing this match.
Villarreal—Real Madrid 2-2
This is going to be a very tough matchup for Real Madrid on the road given the injury situation with both starters and depth players.
Both clubs have similar stat lines as they’ve conceded the same amount of goals (9) while Real has scored just one more goal on the season (14). However, losing Benzema, who is tied for fifth in La Liga goals, is critical for the offense while losing Sergio Ramos is crucial for the defense.
Villarreal has two top goal scorers this season in Gerard Moreno and Paco Alcácer. Moreno is in the tie for fifth with four goals while Alcácer is tied for second with five. It will not be easy for a Real backline that is missing its best defensive player and a top defensive midfielder.
It would not be a surprise if Real lost this match given the circumstances, so the team has their work cut out for them. It will be up to those involved to step up and bear the brunt of the workload against a tough team on the road.
Real have played Villarreal tough at the Cerámica in recent history, so that’s something to build on. They cannot afford to have another disastrous performance like the Valencia loss if they hope to stay relevant in this title race.
The team must force a result on the road to get much-needed points after a bad loss and with an injury-plagued starting lineup.