Verdict: Under 3.5 goals
Best Odds: 6/11
Hoping to find a route back to the top of the La Liga table, Real Madrid will make the trip to European contenders Villarreal on Saturday afternoon.
Starting with the hosts, marking their return to La Liga duties on New Year’s Eve as they claimed a 2-1 victory at home against Valencia, it is no secret that Villarreal have a top-six finish on their wishlist this season. Last seen earlier in the week extending on their Copa del Rey adventure thanks to a rampant 5-1 win away at Segunda outfit Cartagena, Quique Setien’s men will now be hoping to find some stability in 2023. While the Yellow Submarine might have entered the World Cup’s winter break with a 1-0 victory away at Espanyol on November 9th, the one-time Barcelona boss has seen his side claim just four wins from any of their previous 11 La Liga outings. However, despite knowing that they should face a stern test this weekend, Villarreal should be boosted by their eye-catching run on home soil. In fact, along with mustering nine points from their last four top-flight battles in Castellon, Setien’s side have lost just a sole appearance in front of their own supporters since the middle of May.
Still suffering with a hamstring injury, Villarreal will once again be without Tottenham loanee Giovani Lo Celso this weekend. Likewise, Setien is also sweating over the fitness of former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin.
All given a rest against Cartagena earlier in the week, the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Dani Parejo, Pau Torres, Alberto Moreno and Yeremi Pino are all expected to make their returns here.
As for the visitors, also marking their La Liga return on December 30th with a deserved 2-0 victory away at Real Valladolid, Los Blancos are desperate to defend their domestic crown in 2023. Enjoying what was a history-making campaign in the Spanish capital last season, Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be looking to lay down another marker on Saturday afternoon. While the reigning European champions might have suffered a shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Rayo Vallecano prior to the World Cup break, the former AC Milan boss has seen his superstars lose just a sole La Liga matchup this season. With only their goal difference keeping them behind bitter rivals Barcelona, Madrid know that they should face a real title challenge in the New Year. Although Ancelotti’s side might be seen as a standout pick this weekend, they have often struggled against Saturday’s hosts. Having to settle for a 0-0 stalemate when they last made the trip to Villarreal 11 months ago, it should be noted that Los Blancos have won just a trio of their last 10 meetings.
Real Madrid are sweating over the fitness of Spanish international Dani Carvajal on Saturday afternoon. Likewise, the defending champions have confirmed that Mariano Diaz will likely miss out due to an ankle knock.
Bagging both goals in Los Blancos’ 2-0 victory against Real Valladolid last weekend, Karim Benzema will spearhead Ancelotti’s charge this weekend.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two sides last faced off back in February 2022, Saturday’s opponents played out a 0-0 stalemate in Castellon.
- Real Madrid have managed to win just a trio of their previous 10 meetings against the Yellow Submarine – a run that stems back to February 2017.
- Six of the last nine meetings between Villarreal and Los Blancos have finished in a draw.
- However, the defending Spanish champions have lost just one of their 15 La Liga matchups so far this season.
- Villarreal have won just four of their previous 11 La Liga appearances.
While Real Madrid might be looking to leapfrog Barcelona and find a route back to the top of the La Liga table, Saturday’s guests have often struggled against the top-six contenders. Having to settle for a 0-0 stalemate when they last made the trip to Castellon 11 months ago, Los Blancos have claimed just a trio of victories in their last 10 meetings against the Yellow Submarine. Likewise, with each of their last two showdowns failing to produce a single strike, we could be in for a low-scoring affair this weekend. It should be noted, with each of their last five meetings finishing with under 3.5 goals, we’re backing a similar outcome here.
Verdict: Under 3.5 goals
Best Odds: 6/11