Real Madrid vs. Villarreal, Spanish La Liga Matchday 18, Estadio Santiago Bernabu, Madrid Spain 3 PM EST Sunday January 9, 2010
by Jason Green, Soccer Handicapper, Predictem.com
Match Odds: Real Madrid 1.30 / Villarreal 8.50 / Draw 5.15
Over/Under Total: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Real Madrid -333 / Villarreal +750 / Draw +415
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The New Year’s break is over in the Spanish league, as in matchday 18 Real Madrid plays host to Villarreal. Real Madrid is a major betting favorite in this match against Villarreal, who have had a great start to the season.
The experts were right, as La Liga looks to be a 2-team race between defending champion Barcelona and Real Madrid. Barca sits in first place with Real Madrid only 2 points behind. Villarreal is still within striking distance and they are, surprisingly, in 3rd place in the league table 8 points behind Real.
The main reason Villarreal has played so well is their defense, which along with Real Madrid, has given up the second fewest goals in the league this season (14). However, Real has a better offense and have scored the second most goals in La Liga (42) and 10 more than Villarreal. This is the first match between these 2 teams this season.
Real Madrid only has one loss on the season and that was a heart-breaking 5-0 drubbing to hated rival Barcelona in Barcelona. Villarreal has not lost in their last 3 league matches and they are also playing well in the Europa League. The same could be said for Real, who easily advanced to the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Real Madrid plays Levante in the 2nd leg on Thursday in the Round of 16 in the Copa del Rey, but they will likely rest most of his starters. Why? Well in the first leg between the 2 squads in Madrid Real laid a 8-0 beat down on Levante, so a spot in the quarterfinals is in the bag.
Villarreal will host Valencia on Thursday in their 2nd leg of Copa del Rey, but they will go full strength after playing to a 0-0 draw in the first leg.
Villarreal Recent Form:
1/3/2011 Villarreal 2 Almeria 0 (La Liga)
12/21/2010 Valencia 0 Villarreal 0 (Copa del Rey)
12/18/2010 Villarreal 3 Mallorca 1 (La Liga)
12/15/2010 Club Brugge 1 Villarreal 2 (Europa League)
12/11/2010 Getafe 1 Villarreal 0 (La Liga)
Real Madrid Recent Form:
1/3/2011 Getafe 2 Real Madrid 3 (La Liga)
12/22/2010 Real Madrid 8 Levante 0 (Copa del Rey)
12/19/2010 Real Madrid 1 Sevilla 0 (La Liga)
12/12/2010 Real Zaragoza 1 Real Madrid 3 (La Liga)
12/8/2010 Real Madrid 4 AJ Auxerre 0 (Champions League)
Real Madrid will be without F Gonzalo Higuain, who is out for the season with a knee injury and they also may miss the DF duo of Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho. For Villarreal DF Carlos Marchena and F Nilmar may miss this match because of injury.
Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo leads La Liga in goals this season (19) and he is one of the players that will sit out the Levante match on Thursday. He has played great all season and the Villarreal defense will key on him. However, look for him to score, as his speed down the sidelines will cause the away team major problems.
Real did not play a good defensive game in their last match giving up 2 goals, but they be a little lucky if Villarreal F Nilmar is out for this match. He along with Giuseppe Rossi are the leading scorers for Villarreal with 11 goals and if Nilmar cannot go it will be a big blow for the away squad.
Real is great at controlling the midfield and for Villarreal to have any chance they cannot let that happen in this match. However, that will not be easy, especially if Kaka is on the pitch. After missing the first 16 league matches the Brazilian star made his debut in the 3-2 win over Getafe.
Real G Iker Casillas has 4 clean sheet in his last 6 matches and while he did not play great giving up 2 goals to Getafe he will add another clean sheet since the midfield of Real will control the ball most of the match.
Jason’s Pick to Win: Real is coming into this match rested and playing well while Villarreal is playing well they may be a little tired, as well as shorthanded, after playing on Thursday. Look for Real Madrid to dominate this match and easily win by a score of 2-0 or 3-0.