What a difference a month makes. On March 20, Barcelona came to El Madrigal with a comfortable lead in La Liga, while Real Madrid had what looked like a tough match at home against Sevilla. Villarreal drew 2-2 with Barcelona (and probably should have won) while Real Madrid hammered Sevilla 4-0. Since then, they've played twice more at home, winning 4-0 against Eibar and 3-0 against Wolfsburg in the Champions League. Oh, and they won the Clasico in Camp Nou, 2-1, and are only a point behind Barca and Atleti with five matches left to play.
So if there ever was a good time to visit the Bernabeu, this is probably not it. Team news for the Whites is that Dani Carvajal may miss out, and Gareth Bale will not play due to injury (late word).
Villarreal, meanwhile, come off a lackluster performance at Rayo. We learned Rodri and Alfonso Pedraza are not yet ready for prime time, Leo Baptistao continues to struggle to make an impact up front, while we missed Bruno Soriano. And Tomas Pina, surprisingly to some. Well, Bruno is back, but Pina isn't, nor is Samu Castillejo. And Roberto Soldado is out, and Victor Ruiz is included in the squad but might be dropped if he fails a fitness test.
Our squad is:
- Porteros: Asenjo and Areola.
- Defensas: Mario, Rukavina, Adrián Marín, Eric Bailly, Víctor Ruiz, Bonera and Pablo Íñiguez.
- Centrocampistas: Trigueros, Bruno, Denis Suárez, Samu García, Jonathan dos Santos, Rodri and Nahuel.
- Delanteros: Bakambu, Leo Baptistao and Adrián López.
Prediction: I'm not expecting anything out of this one, though I am sure we will play hard and compete well. If we could get a draw, I'd be delighted!
PS--I was a guest last night on Managing Madrid's podcast--you can find it here (I came on after the first ten minutes which is apparently rather wacky. Recorded before we knew Bale and Soldado were out. We had fun, even talked about the match a little bit but a lot on how badly La Liga markets itself and the like!)