- Villarreal v Real Madrid
- Saturday, January 7th, 2023, 09:15 ET
- At the Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal
Villarreal’s return to the Estadio de la Ceramica heralded an important victory over Valencia and they look a good bet to earn a draw against Real Madrid
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks it is not a huge surprise to find that Real Madrid is the favorite here, despite being the visiting team. Villarreal is rated as a +230 chance and the defending La Liga champion Real is the clear +110 favorite while the draw is priced at +290.
|Villarreal v Real Madrid|
Villarreal Aiming to Build on Valencia Win
Quique Setien had only seven games at the helm of Villarreal before the World Cup, but that was long enough for him to grasp the scale of the problems facing the team if it is to mount a successful recovery from its poor start to the season.
In the first three league games since the sacking of Unai Emery, Villarreal lost to Bilbao and Mallorca and earned a narrow win over Espanyol. One point from two Europa Conference games was also a poor return, although qualification for the Round of 16 has been secured.
Yet Villarreal’s poor home record could perhaps be partially attributed to their relocation to Valencia while the Estadio de la Ceramica was undergoing renovations, and Quique’s team marked its homecoming with an excellent 2-1 win over Valencia on New Year’s Eve. That win took Villarreal up to seventh in the table and gives it something to build on in the next few weeks.
Real Madrid Remain on Course
The failure to sign Kylian Mbappe during the summer may have led some Real Madrid fans to wonder if their team might struggle to compete with an improving Barcelona this season, but there have been no signs of stagnation or complacency from Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
The midfield duo of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos remains dominant and is being pushed to greater heights of performance by the presence of two dynamic young French midfielders, Eduardo Camavinga and €80 million signing Aurelien Tchouameni.
Ancelotti’s team goes into this weekend’s game with only one league defeat on its resume for 2022/23 and having already beaten its three main challengers, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, while qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League has been comfortably secured.
La Liga Head to Head
Villarreal did not reach the top level of Spanish football until 1998, so its head-to-head record with Real Madrid is not as long as many of the rivalries found in Spanish soccer.
In fact, its first-ever game in the top division was against Real, at the Bernabeu, which the home team won 4-1. This matchup continued to be one-sided over the next 14 games, and it wasn’t until 2007 that Villarreal won against Real for the first time, beating them 1-0 at El Madrigal in January of that year.
That victory was not repeated until 2015 and going into this game, Villarreal has only recorded three victories over their Madrid rivals, while Real has won 24 and there have been 16 draws. It is also notable that Villarreal has fared better at the Bernabeu than at its home ground, winning three and drawing 10 of the 22 games that have been played in Madrid to date.
La Liga Betting Team News
Giovani Lo Celso has been struggling with a hamstring injury and may not feature in this game, but Villarreal will be able to call on a number of players who were rested during the midweek Copa del Rey victory. Geronimo Rulli should be back in goal, so veteran Pepe Reina will return to the bench,
For Real, the team news is also relatively positive. Dani Carvajal and Thibaut Courtois were reportedly suffering from minor injuries at the weekend, so it is not clear whether they will feature here, but a host of first-choice players will be returning to action, including Modric, Kroos, Vinicius Jr and David Alaba.
La Liga Match Betting Picks
Although Real is the strong favorite for this game, it has the potential to produce an upset. Villarreal’s slow start to the season was masked to an extent by the situation with its home ground, and with that issue now resolved, we can expect to see an improvement.
It is also worth noting that in its last 10 games against the Madrid giants, Villarreal has drawn four and won one. It has also only conceded three from the last four meetings. Real has enough talent and experience in its ranks to avoid defeat here, but the draw looks a good pick in the match betting market.