Real Madrid - Villarreal Preview: Jose Mourinho's side aiming to maintain lead over Barcelona
The hosts are clear of their great rivals and will be looking to win as Juan Carlos Garrido brings his under-performing side to Santiago Bernabeu
By Martin Macdonald
Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo
Xabi Alonso, Khedira
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
Zapata, Gonzalo, Musacchio, Catala
Cani, Borja Valero, Bruno, De Guzman
Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol is an absentee as he is still recovering from a fractured cheekbone. Nuri Sahin is working back to fitness from a knee injury, while Ricardo Carvalho remains a major doubt after failing to shake off a back injury.
Sami Khedira may be given the nod next to Xabi Alonso, and with Kaka disappointing against Malaga, Mesut Ozil may return to the starting line-up. With Gonzalo Higuain again on the scoresheet at the weekend, he will likely be chosen up front ahead of Karim Benzema.
Nilmar remains a long-term absentee for Villarreal. The Brazilian is still recovering from a knee injury. Marcos Senna, Marco Ruben, and Javi Camunas all returned to the squad for the 3-0 home defeat to Levante, and are in contention for an appearance against Madrid.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
In this fixture last season, Real Madrid fought to a 4-2 victory at Santiago Bernabeu, with Cristiano Ronaldo netting a hat-trick.
- Iker Casillas' outing against Malaga on Saturday moved him to 428 league appearances for Madrid, edging him above Paco Gento into fifth place on the all-time list.
- Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain (right) have scored more goals in La Liga this season than the entire Villarreal squad.
- Villarreal have won only two games out of 11 in competitive matches this season.
- Juan Carlos Garrido's side have had four different goalscorers in La Liga this campaign - half the amount of Real Madrid.
- Villarreal have notched up seven goals in eight games in the league this season. Madrid, on the other hand, have netted 28 times.
How do you stay up to date with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com – your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.
|William Hill: £25 in free bets|
|Sign up with bet365 for a 100% deposit bonus up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Real Madrid 4-0 Villarreal
- 19.9 %
Real Madrid 5-0 Villarreal
- 12.46 %
Real Madrid 4-1 Villarreal
- 12.26 %
|La Liga (LIGA)||8 Feb 2014||Real Madrid 4 - Villarreal 2|
|La Liga (LIGA)||14 Sep 2013||Villarreal 2 - Real Madrid 2|
|La Liga (LIGA)||21 Mar 2012||Villarreal 1 - Real Madrid 1|
|La Liga (LIGA)||26 Oct 2011||Real Madrid 3 - Villarreal 0|
|La Liga (LIGA)||15 May 2011||Villarreal 1 - Real Madrid 3|
|16 Apr 2014||Barcelona 1 - Real Madrid 2||ESPC|
|12 Apr 2014||Real Madrid 4 - UD Almería 0||LIGA|
|8 Apr 2014||Borussia Dortmund 2 - Real Madrid 0||UCL|
|5 Apr 2014||Real Sociedad 0 - Real Madrid 4||LIGA|
|2 Apr 2014||Real Madrid 3 - Borussia Dortmund 0||UCL|
|22||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
|25||Diego López Rodríguez||Goalkeeper|
|20||Jonathan De Guzmán||Midfielder|
Returned to goalscoring form with a bang at the weekend as he bagged himself yet another Real Madrid hat-trick. Is performing at an exceptionally high standard at the moment so Villarreal will have their hands full with the Portuguese. If he is awarded too much room, he will almost certainly grab himself a goal or provide an assist for a team-mate.
Villarreal's top goalscorer this season and certainly their most potent attacking weapon. If his team-mates can manage to maintain decent periods of possession in the final third then they can create chances for the Italian, who definitely has the quality to fire his side to a result against Madrid.
Real Madrid are in scintillating form at the moment and when you compare that with the awful start to the season from Villarreal, it is difficult to see past a comfortable win for Jose Mourinho's men in this game. Juan Carlos Garrido's side have been terribly unorganised recently, and although the Yellow Submarine definitely have the quality to get something from the contest, their defensive frailties could once again come to the fore.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed