Real Madrid take to the field for the first time since becoming FIFA Club World Cup winners once again before Christmas as they tackle Villarreal in La Liga.
Bolstered by winning the trophy for a third year in succession, the Bernabeu club are attempting to close an eight-point gap to leaders Barcelona in what is a game in hand caused by their participation in the Abu Dhabi-based tournament.
They face a Villarreal side that has had a disappointing start to the season and is in the relegation zone, having won only 15 points from 16 matches.
|Game||Villarreal v Real Madrid|
|Date||Thursday, December 3|
|Time||8:30pm GMT/ 3:30pm ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) .
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
IIn the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be streamed via Eleven Sports 1.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|N/A||Eleven Sports 1|
Squads & Team News
|Defenders||Laylun, Alvaro, Mori, Ruiz, Costa|
|Midfielders||Caseres, Fornals, Trigueros, Pedraza, Cazorla, Raba, Morlanes, Chukwueze, Fuego|
|Forwards||Gerard, Bacca, Ekambi|
Mario Gaspar is banned for the hosts, who are also deprived of key midfielder Bruno Soriano, who has spent the last 18 months laid up. Miguel Layun comes into the defence.
Villarreal starting XI: Asenjo; Layun, Alvaro, Victor Ruiz, Costa; Cazorla, Javi Fuego, Caseres, Fornals; Gerard, Chukwueze.
|Position||Real Madrid players|
|Goalkeepers||Casilla, Courtois, Navas|
|Defenders||Ramos, Carvajal, Nacho, Varane, Marcelo, Reguilon, Odriozola|
|Midfielders||Kroos, Modric, Valverde, Casemiro, Isco, Ceballos|
|Forwards||Benzema, Bale, Lucas Vazquez, Vinicius Jr.|
Real Madrid are still without Marco Asensio while Marcos Llorente will also miss out . Mariano Diaz, who travelled to the Club World Cup, will not take part in this clash due to a back injury forecast to keep him out for 10 days.
Real Madrid starting XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Vazquez, Benzema, Bale.
Betting & Match Odds
Real Madrid are 3/4 favourites with bet365 . The draw can be backed at 3/1, while Villarreal are 16/5 outsiders.
Santiago Solari has warned his Real Madrid side that they must start 2019 with a bang when they travel to face Villarreal in La Liga action on Thursday.
The Club World Cup winners have had a couple of weeks off to prepare themselves for this encounter but January promises to be a taxing month, with Copa del Rey fixtures thrown in with five league matches, in which no slips can be accommodated after Los Blancos lost five of their first 16 games of the campaign.
“They are a solid team and we must go into the match with energy and aggression,” Solari said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the coach is not eyeing the January transfer window as an opportunity to make dramatic changes to his squad.
That means that no exit is forecast for Isco, who has struggled for minutes under the new coach.
“All of the players are part of this squad,” the Argentine affirmed. “Isco? He is a great player and he'll keep making us happy.”
Like Madrid, Villarreal also made a change in the dugout in the first half of the season, with Luis Garcia replacing Javier Calleja a couple of matches before Christmas.
Although he guided them through in the Europa League with a 2-0 win over Spartak Moscow, they were held 2-2 against struggling Huesca in La Liga.
On both occasions Villarreal finished with 10 men, and if they are to stand any chance of an upset on Thursday, they surely cannot afford such ill discipline.