Real Madrid will face a difficult test on Sunday as they visit the El Madrigal to take on Villarreal in the Spanish La Liga. The current league leaders are under serious pressure, after they lost their previous La Liga game against the struggling Valencia, 2-1 in the midweek and as a result gave an opening for the chasing pack of Barcelona and Sevilla a chance to get back into contention for the title.
Given Villarreal’s recent run of results and their home form, it wouldn’t be easy by any means for Zinedine Zidane’s men in what will be a pivotal clash for the eleven-time Champions League winners. The last time these two sides met, the match ended in a 1-1 stalemate at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Madrid will be hoping for a better result this time around.
Zidane will be without defender Raphael Varane who is out with a hamstring injury, while full-back Danilo also remains unavailable. With Gareth Bale fit and raring to again, there is a good chance that he might be handed his first start post his return on Sunday.
Predicted Real Madrid line-up to face Villarreal
Keylor Navas (GK)
The Costa Rican international hasn’t been in the best of form recently and has made a few mistakes of late that have hurt Madrid. Nevertheless, he will continue in between the sticks on Sunday night.
Dani Carvajal (RB)
The Spanish right-back is a key outlet of attack for the Merengues and will start the game against Villarreal at the El Madrigal.
With Raphael Varane ruled out due to injury, it opens up an opportunity for the Portuguese defender as Zidane will look to solidify his defence after the midweek’s loss. Nacho might miss out.
Sergio Ramos (CB)
The captain is a vital presence on the pitch for Madrid in the backline and more so with Varane being absent. Expect him to play a crucial role against the Yellow Submarine.
Just like Carvajal, Marcelo is one of the primary attacking avenues for Zidane’s side. After putting in an impressive display against Valencia, he will hope to continue in the same vein of form on Sunday.
Put in one of his poorest displays in Madrid colours during the midweek fixture, but his presence in the middle of the park is much-needed for the Los Blancos. Expect him to start on Sunday night.
Luka Modric (CM)
The creative hub of this Madrid team, when Modric plays well, the whole team plays at a different level and so he will be absolutely vital against Villarreal as Madrid attempt to regain control of the title chase.
Toni Kroos (CM)
Has gone off the boil in the last few games but given his class and quality, he is an undoubted starter for Madrid at the El Madrigal.
Gareth Bale (RW)
The Welshman is fit again and scored on his comeback last weekend against Espanyol and also made a cameo against Valencia in the midweek. With a win of paramount importance for Madrid and Zidane, expect Bale to feature from the get-go on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo (LW)
The Ballon d’Or winner scored Madrid’s only goal in the loss to Valencia and Madrid will need him firing on all cylinders if they are to come away with the three points against Villarreal.
Karim Benzema (ST)
Has been struggling for goals in recent weeks and cut a frustrated figure once again during the midweek clash. But has the complete faith of the manager and will start on Sunday ahead of Alvaro Morata.