Preview: Real Madrid vs. Villarreal

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Villarreal

Arguably the pick of the La Liga matches in the next game week will take place at Bernabeu on Saturday evening, with the champions Real Madrid welcoming Villarreal to Bernabeu.

Los Blancos are currently second in the table, 11 points behind leaders Barcelona on the same number of games (27), while Villarreal sit sixth, four points behind fourth-placed Real Sociedad in the race for a top-four finish.

Unless something extraordinary happens over the next few weeks, Real Madrid are not going to retain the La Liga title this season, with Barcelona sitting 11 points clear at the top of the division, meaning that the Catalan outfit would have to have a serious collapse to open the race back up.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are chasing silverware in two competitions this season, though, including the Champions League, where they are preparing to take on Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

Los Blancos will enter this match off the back of a stunning result, meanwhile, having recorded a 4-0 victory over Barcelona in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Real Madrid were 1-0 behind heading into the second leg, but a famous win saw them advance to the final, where they will take on Osasuna for the silverware.

Los Blancos have the second-best home record in the league this season, picking up 31 points from 13 matches at Bernabeu, while Villarreal have the sixth-best record on their travels.

However, Ancelotti’s side are without a victory in their last four La Liga matches with the Yellow Submarine and suffered a 2-1 loss in the reverse game earlier this season.

Villarreal, meanwhile, will enter this match off the back of a morale-boosting 2-0 home success over Real Sociedad last weekend.

Dani Parejo’s 77th-minute penalty sent Quique Setien’s side into the lead, before Nicolas Jackson registered a second four minutes later, with the home side securing a vital three points in their top-four battle.

The Yellow Submarine are sixth in the table, one point behind fifth-placed Real Betis and four behind fourth-placed Real Sociedad, with the three teams battling for a Champions League spot.

Villarreal have not finished fourth in Spain’s top flight since 2016, and they have been seventh in the last two campaigns, so it would be an impressive jump to fourth this term.

Setien’s side suffered a surprise elimination to Anderlecht in the Europa Conference League last month, but the exit will allow them to fully concentrate on the league, and they have a relatively kind fixture list in the closing stages of the season, which could prove decisive.

Real Madrid La Liga form:

Real Madrid form (all competitions):

Villarreal La Liga form:

Villarreal form (all competitions):

We say: Real Madrid 1-1 Villarreal
Ancelotti will certainly be thinking about next week’s trip to Chelsea, with Real Madrid so far behind when it comes to the top of the La Liga table. Los Blancos were excellent against Barcelona on Wednesday, but it would not be a surprise to see them drop some points against an impressive Villarreal outfit on Saturday.

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