Following a dramatic midweek of football from across Europe, we head into what promises to be another tense weekend of fixtures from the most popular leagues. There’s plenty for followers of the Spanish La Liga to get excited about, including Real Madrid’s trip to Villarreal on Saturday in a match you can watch on TV and live streaming apps from 3.15 pm GMT. With the home team battling for a place in the top four and next season’s Champions League while Real Madrid is favourites to wrestle the league title from rivals Atletico Madrid, there’s all to play for here.
Villarreal enjoys the home advantage and set up for this game with confidence on board, thanks to two wins in their last two games. The six points gained has thrust them back into contention for a European finish, but the locals know they face a tough test on Saturday afternoon. Los Blancos enter on top of the league and unbeaten in their last three matches. They have dominated the competition so far but know they can’t afford to take their foot off the gas with Sevilla keeping up the pressure in second.
These teams have served up some memorable contests over the years, including the pulsating 3-2 win for Real Madrid back in 2019, but the most recent match wasn’t exactly a classic by anyone’s standards. The rivals finished goalless in the reverse of this fixture in the summer with plenty of chances created but the attackers lacking the edge to turn shots into goals. Neutrals and those planning to watch this one live hope for a more attacking 90 minutes this time but will the players deliver an entertaining match?
Villarreal have been consistent
Villarreal started the week sixth in the table and hot on the heels of those in the Champions League spaces. The coming weeks could determine where the hosts finish this season as they appear to be at a crossroads. Villarreal is three points behind Barcelona and a place in the top four but is also just five points better off than Valencia down in 11th place. A home win here would set them on the path to a European finish, either Champions League or Europa League, while defeat would increase their chances of dropping off the pace and slipping down towards midtable.
The locals have performed well in their last five matches, winning three, drawing one and losing the other. They did suffer defeat at the hands of Elche on the road last month, going down 1-0 in what was a surprise result, but Valencia responded to that disappointment by collecting six points in their next two. They beat Mallorca 3-0 at home in what was a real show of strength before opening February with an eye-catching 2-0 away win over Real Betis last weekend. That was a game they were expected to win, but the players deserve credit for their effort, creating chances and scoring goals.
At the end of a stuffy first half, Villarreal eventually took the lead thanks to Torres breaking the deadlock on 41 minutes. That gave the players a little breathing space, and they finished the second half the way they ended the first, scoring to put the game to bed. The deciding goal came from Capoue on 83 minutes. 2-0 may have flattered the victors a little as the game was more competitive than the final score suggests, but there could be no denying that Villarreal deserved all three points.
Blancos unbeaten in three
Fans of Real Madrid suffered the pain of watching the La Liga title slip away last season, won by their city rivals Atletico Madrid in what was one of the biggest upsets in European football. Atletico was expected to build on that success and enjoy a run of success in La Liga, but their time at the head of Spanish football proved to be short-lived. Real Madrid took over, taking full advantage of Atletico’s drop in form and the off-field problems suffered by Barcelona, who were forced to sell prized asset Lionel Messi to help balance the books. Real head into this match top of the league and looking every inch a champion in waiting.
They travel to this match with their stats for the season showing 16 wins and five draws against two defeats, scoring 48 goals while conceding 20. Madrid rank as the competition’s leading scorers by a comfortable distance, but they have leaked more goals than Sevilla in second and Athletic Bilbao, who can be found down in eighth. The 53 points collected leaves Real Madrid six points better than Sevilla at a crucial stage of the season, but the team in second enjoy an unbeaten run that keeps them on the heels of Madrid. With Sevilla poised to strike and take advantage of any errors, Real Madrid knows they can’t afford to let their guard down.
The visitors are unbeaten in their last three, taking seven points from the nine up for grabs. They were last seen beating Granada a week ago at home thanks to a 1-0 score. A more comfortable margin of victory was expected, but they claimed the points, and that was the most important thing. A goal from Asensio on 74 minutes proved to be the difference between the teams that day. I was a much-needed three points following Madrid’s shock 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey.
Villarreal v Real Madrid prediction
Villarreal knows the size of the task ahead of them this weekend and, despite enjoying the home advantage, they understand they must be at their best. Winning this match isn’t impossible, but it will require Villarreal to be organised and defence and seize on any chances that fall their way at the opposite end of the park.
Real Madrid moves a step closer to regaining the La Liga title with every victory, and they are in a strong position at this stage of the campaign. If they are at their best here, Real Madrid should have enough quality to get the win and three points.
La Liga odds
Villarreal is 2.79 for the win with Real Madrid 2.41 and the draw 3.56.
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