Yellow Submarine To Do Some Bernebeu Damage
Real Madrid v Villarreal
Leaders Real Madrid welcome Villarreal to the Bernabeu on Sunday night with the hosts eager not to let the lead they’ve recently regained be narrowed once more.
A 2-0 win over Elche last weekend was the third game in a row that Real have won by that scoreline and proved their 4-0 hammering in the Madrid derby was behind them. It’s now seven wins in eight games for Carlo Ancelotti’s side who have opened up a four point gap at the top of the Primera Liga table once again after Barcelon’a shock defeat last weekend with Atletico a further three points back. Remarkably, Los Merengues are yet to draw a game in the league this season after 24 games and boast the best home record to boot.
World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo remains the club and the league’s top scorer with 29 La Liga goals this season, and has now scored 38 in all competitions in total after finding the back of the net in each of his last two appearances.
After opening up a healthy six-point cushion over Malaga in seventh spot, it looks likely that Villarreal will earn European football once again next season, although given they also lie six adrift of Valencia in fourth a Champions League place looks beyond Marcelino’s side already. That’s likely to mean Europa League action for the Yellow Submarine once more, unless they can win that competition this season .
They remain in a position to do that after reaching the last 16 on Thursday thanks to a comfortable 5-2 aggregate win over Red Bull Salzburg, with their 3-1 victory in Austria last time out making it three successive wins, and eight in 11 overall.
Argentine striker Luciano Vietto netted his 15th and 16th goals of the season in Salzburg after scoring his 11th in La Liga with the only goal of the game against Eibar last weekend.
Midfielder Luka Modric could make his long-awaited return to action for Real after being out since November as he returned to training last week but Sami Khedira, James Rodriguez and Sergio Ramos are all still out. Gareth Bale is also rated as touch and go with Jese or Javier Hernandez ready to take the Welshman’s place should he miss out.
Captain Bruno Soriano is out for the Yellow Submarine with a fractured leg he suffered a fortnight ago while they also have to do without a trio of full-backs as Mario Gaspar, Adrian Marin and Bojan Jokic all sidelined.
Head to Head
Real came away from El Madrigal with a 2-0 win late last September with Modric and Ronaldo, inevitably, getting the goals in the first half. Villarreal have drawn two of the last four clashes with the ten-time European champions, but haven’t beaten them since 2009, a run stretching back nine games.
The visitors have never won at the Bernabeu with the last four meetings in the capital resulting in a 17-6 aggregate scoreline to the home side.
In midweek action and against such formidable opponents it would take a brave punter to back the visitors to pick up their first win ever on this ground at 11/1, but they could inflict some damage and so both teams scoring at 20/23 looks a savvy punt while each finding the net in a Real win stands out at 13/8.
Ronaldo has found top form again too lately having come in for plenty of criticism for celebrating his birthday on the night they were humiliated by Atletico, the 2/1 on a first goal might seem restrictive but 17/10 on two or more goals for the Portuguese is worth backing.