This is Real Madrid’s final match before the Champions League final next weekend and it’ll be interesting to see how they approach it. Avoiding injuries will of course be a priority but they will want a positive result to take some momentum into the Liverpool clash, although Villarreal are certainly capable of giving them a genuine test.
The Yellow Submarine have had a curious kind of season. They’ve rarely fully convinced or put any great sequences of wins together however they’ve continued to accumulate points and have ultimately secured another fairly comfortable top six finish. That still has to be seen as good going for a club of their size and 4 wins from their last 5 matches has certainly eased any pressure that was starting to mount on boss Javier Calleja.
Their recent matches have certainly been a good watch. 5 of Villarreal’s last 7 fixtures have produced over 3.5 goals. They hit four at Depor last time out but conceded five against Barcelona just before that, so Real Madrid will certainly know there are weaknesses that can be exploited.
When he first arrived and even at times early on this season, Zinedine Zidane was largely viewed as a pragmatic coach with more defensive emphasis than many other coaches to have filled the Bernabeu hotseat. However over the past few months, it’s felt almost like a throwback to the Galactico era with Real simply backing themselves to outscore the opposition.
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A record of just 1 clean sheet in 10 matches is testament to that but they’ve scored twice or more in all of their last six and that includes two matches against Bayern and one against Barcelona. Ominously from Villarreal’s perspective, they hit six last weekend despite the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. It was a fairly emphatic rebuff of any suggestions that they are totally reliant on the Portuguese star, ironically on the same weekend that Barca slipped to defeat for the first time this season in La Liga in a game where they rested Leo Messi.
There may be places up for grabs in Kiev next weekend so plenty of Real players will be really motivated here. Villarreal have nothing to lose though and should be pretty positive given they will feel they can get at this Real back four. Therefore it has the potential to be a very good game with chances at each end and backing Over 3.5 Goals appeals.
One of those Real men bidding for a starting role against Liverpool is Gareth Bale. He’s just coming into form with 4 goals in his last 3 games in La Liga and backing Bale to score anytime could be worth a punt here.
HEAD TO HEAD
Real have tended to struggle against Villarreal in recent years. The last 6 meetings have produced 2 wins each and 2 draws. Los Blancos have only won on 2 of their last 5 trips to play the Yellow Submarine.
VILLARREAL VS REAL MADRID STATS
Real Madrid have only won two of their last six league meetings versus Villarreal (D2 L2), but one of those wins came last time out at La Cerámica (3-2) in February 2017.
Villarreal have won their last three home league games in a row, scoring an average of 2.3 goals per game – if they win this game it would be their best run since November 2016 (5).
Since being promoted to La Liga in 2013/14, Villarreal have qualified for European competition in each of the last five seasons.
Despite playing just 1705 minutes in La Liga this season, Isco has had a hand in more goals than any other Real Madrid midfielder (14 – 7 goals, 7 assists).
Gareth Bale has scored in three consecutive league appearances for the first time since April 2016 and if he scores in this game it would equal his best streak, set back in March 2016 (four). (Source)