Villarreal visit the Bernabeu knowing that a win would ensure Primera football next season in Vila-real. A loss would mean that (depending on the result of the Valladolid-Athletic Club match which follows ours) we might be five points up with two matches to play, or only two.
A draw would give us a potentially valuable point, so is not to be sneezed at. For Madrid, the game doesn’t mean anything much—they are pretty much guaranteed to end up in third place—but after recent poor play, the home side has got to want to respond to coach Zidane’s criticisms—and some of the players are probably playing for a spot in next year’s side, both in this match and the two that follow.
Villarreal are without Toko Ekambi and Santy Caceres (both suspended) and are likely to be without Carlos Bacca, who is a doubt due to a muscle injury. Madrid are without Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Odriozola, all injured.
One thing to watch for Villarreal is that Pablo Fornals and Roberto Funes Mori are both one card away from a ban. Vicente Iborra returns, though, and will probably anchor the midfield along with Santi Cazorla. It looks as though Fornals, Chukwueze, Pedraza and Gerard will make up the rest of the front six.
All-time record: Not real good. (How’s that for understatement: we’re 4-12-21 overall, 1-5-12 in Madrid) but we did get our first win in this stadium last year, we have picked up points in our last three encounters, and we come in having won our last two away matches in the league. We drew earlier this season in the Ceramica 2-2, with Santi Cazorla starring.
With Benzema, Ramos, Ekambi and Bacca (presumably) all missing, the leading goalscorer who can take the pitch is Gareth Bale (8 goals for Madrid this term) while Villarreal have Gerard on 6 and Ckukwueze on 5.
Prediction: A lot will depends on which team is able to deal more effectively with its enforced substitutions. If Villarreal could grab a lead and get the Bernabeu crowd to turn a bit on the home team, that would help. I think there will be three goals in this, I think the final score will be 2-1, I will go with the home side to get the two but I would not be too surprised if it’s the other way round.