What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Villarreal vs Real Madrid
When: Saturday 14th September, 2013, at 21:00 UK Time
Where: El Madrigal, Villarreal, Spain

Best Start Possible

Having come back into the limelight following a season in the abyss of the Segunda Division, Villarreal have enjoyed a good start to the campaign by winning their first three games, two of which were at home, including one over Osasuna, who are notoriously hard to beat at the El Sadar stadium. Now, head coach Marcelino faces his hardest task so far as he prepares to welcome Real Madrid.

The numbers do not favour the Yellow Submarine, who have not been able to beat Real Madrid in the last six meetings between the two sides. Furthermore, they have conceded 19 times in those matches.

Nonetheless, club captain Bruno Soriano believes that his side have the necessary leverage to tackle this match. 

“Facing this game with nine points gives us peace of mind”, he said. “We can face this match with the good feeling we have after three victories. It's an opportunity to show that we can compete and fight a team like Madrid. We know it will be tough game but that does not mean that we do not think about winning and we have our options."

New Faces

The question on the mind of all Real Madrid fans surrounds their newest player: When will Gareth Bale make his Blancos bow against Villarreal? The former Tottenham man played 30 minutes with Wales against Serbia and Carlo Ancelotti has said he will be “involved” in some form.

Real Madrid need to turn their attention to the pitch now, as the arrival of Bale and the surprising departure of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal have created much fanfare. However, they have been hit badly by the “FIFA virus”, with Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao and Isco all nursing injuries. Should the two left-backs miss this, then Alvaro Arbeloa or Nacho will have to slot in, while Luka Modric could be deployed further up front if Isco is absent.

However, Marcelo feels that his side have more than enough to tackle Villarreal. “We are well, we have a strong team. The match against Villarreal will be at their home ground and we know that it will be difficult but we go with the intention of winning", declared the Brazilian international.


Recent form

Almeria 2-3 Villarreal (19/08; La Liga)
Villarreal 2-1 Real Valladolid (24/08; La Liga)
Osasuna 0-3 Villarreal (31/08; La Liga)

Real Madrid:
Granada 0-1 Real Madrid (26/08; La Liga)
Deportivo La Coruna 0-4 Real Madrid (29/08; La Liga)
Real Madrid 3-1 Athletic Bilbao (01/09; La Liga)

Key absences

Villarreal: Bojan Jokic; Francisco Farinos 

Real Madrid: Marcelo; Xabi Alonso; Raphael Varane; Jesus Fernandez; Fabio Coentrao (doubt); Isco (doubt)

Players to watch

Villarreal – Giovani dos Santos: The Mexican has the right motivation to face Real Madrid, having played his football at Barcelona some time ago. Discarded by the Blaugrana, he has another chance at Villarreal to impose himself once again. With two goals in three league games this season, so far so good.

Real Madrid – Gareth Bale: The Welshman might not start this game, but after seeing playing minutes with his national side, he is poised to make his bow. Carrying the price tag of the most expensive footballer on Earth, many are waiting for him to don the white jersey. His playing position is still a mystery, too.

Match Prediction

Real Madrid have not shown their best aspect on the road, and have more often than not faced difficulties away from their own ground. However, with a high sense of confidence now that Bale is on board, they will be able to grind out a victory. Villarreal 1-2 Real Madrid.

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