Real Madrid vs Villarreal: Match preview

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Real Madrid dropped to the 2nd position in the league table, with 39 points, following a 1-1 draw against Real Betis. They now take on a Villareal side, who have been a shadow of themselves this season. Real Madrid will hope to return to winning ways in this fixture.

Match details

Date: Sunday, 17th December 2023
Competition: La Liga
Matchday: 17
Time: 22:00 CEST
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu

Match preview

Real Madrid enter this fixture after a close 3-2 win against Union Berlin in the Champions League as the European giants ended the group stages with a perfect record. Joselu scored a brace and Dani Ceballos scored his first goal of the season in that match.

In the previous league match, the Merengues dropped points at the Benito Villamarin, which Girona took advantage of and climbed to the top spot in La Liga. The race for the title is intensifying and Madrid would look to keep up pace with the Catalonian club.

Facing the Yellow Submarines has always been a tricky fixture for the Los Blancos and is expected to be the same this time around, despite the men in yellow being placed 14th in the league with just 4 wins out of 16 and as many as 8 losses.

Villareal played out a 2-3 thriller against Rennes away from home and comfortably qualified for the Europa League round of 32. On the contrary, they faced a 3-0 drubbing at home to Real Sociedad in the last league fixture.

The Yellow Submarines have conceded 29 goals in La Liga this season and only Granada (37) and Almeria (39) have a worse defensive record. Their task will be cut out as they will be up against the attack with 34 goals – only bettered by Girona with 38.

In the pre-match press conference, Carlo Ancelotti said: “I have already decided who will be the starting GK tomorrow.” It will be interesting to see who starts as Kepa returned to action in the Champions League fixture whereas Lunin has also been impressive this season.

Defensively, Dani Carvajal continues his recovery with Lucas Vazquez keeping his place as the right back. Rudiger and Alaba are expected to be the center-back pairing. Fran Garcia was impressive in the last fixture as he ended up providing an assist, but keeping Ferland Mendy’s defensive attributes in mind, he may be given the nod.

Aurélien Tchouameni returned to training and is a part of the matchday squad. However, as he will not be 100% fit yet, Toni Kroos and Fede Valverde will start in the midfield with Dani Ceballos keeping his place as he continues to impress.

The league’s leading goal scorer, Jude Bellingham will undoubtedly be the number 10 in the lineup. Even though he had a relatively quiet game against Union Berlin, the Englishman still provided an assist for the third goal.

Ancelotti’s reliance on Rodrygo has paid dividends in Vinicius Jr’s absence and he would keep his place in the lineup. Joselu scored a brace in the last match – taking his tally to 8 goals this season – and will look to continue his form as he would partner up with Rodrygo up front.

Real Madrid would look to secure the three points against their opponents at the Bernabeu on Sunday as Girona already have a two-point lead. A win in this fixture, would help the Merengues keep up with the league leaders and also hope that the Catalan club drops points sooner or later.

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