Villarreal vs. Real Madrid: Odds, Preview, Live Stream, TV Info | Bleacher Report

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 22: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid in action during the FIFA Club World Cup UAE final match between  Real Madrid and Al Ain at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on December 22, 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Real Madrid return to La Liga action on Thursday against Villarrreal for the first time since being crowned FIFA Club World Cup champions for a third year in a row.

Santiago Solari’s men begin 2019 in fourth place in the table, eight points behind leaders Barcelona having played a game fewer than their fierce rivals.

Meanwhile, Villarreal are enduring a difficult campaign and have spent the winter break in the relegation zone.

A point would be enough to take them out of the bottom three on goal difference, and the Yellow Submarine are unbeaten in two matches since Luis Garcia Plaza replaced Javier Calleja at the helm.

            

Date: Thursday, January 3

Time: 8:30 p.m. GMT/3:30 p.m. ET

TV: beIN Sports (U.S.)

Live Stream: beIN Sports Connect (U.S.), Eleven Sports (UK)

Odds: Villarreal (14-5), Draw (3-1), Liverpool (17-20)

Odds courtesy of OddsShark.

        

Preview

Villarreal and Real Madrid will play the first La Liga match of 2019 at Estadio de la Ceramica, the game having been rescheduled due to Los Blancos’ Club World Cup commitments.

Solari’s men will have been boosted by their victory in the United Arab Emirates but must now return their focus to domestic matters and making up ground in La Liga. 

The visitors will be hoping Gareth Bale can maintain the form he showed at the Club World Cup. The Wales international scored three goals in two matches and was named player of the tournament:

Bale managed only four La Liga goals in the first half of the season, as Real Madrid uncharacteristically toiled in front of goal without Cristiano Ronaldo.

Los Blancos have scored just 24 in La Liga, exactly half the number Barcelona have managed. Tellingly, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi combined have outscored Solari’s men:

Solari will also have to make do without Marcos Llorente for the game. The 23-year-old has been impressive in recent weeks and scored his first Madrid goal in the Club World Cup final win over Al Ain.

However, Casemiro should start against Villarreal, as Llorente has been ruled out with a thigh problem:

Another player who will definitely miss out for the visitors is Mariano Diaz. The striker has a sciatic nerve problem and has been ruled out of Thursday’s clash, per AS

Villarreal finished fifth in La Liga last season but find themselves in a relegation battle this time around.

The appointment of Plaza has provided optimism, and the team have responded with victory over Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Europa League and a 2-2 La Liga draw against Huesca.

The 46-year-old takes over a talented squad that has the potential to rise up the table.

Pablo Fornals offers creativity in midfield and has attracted interest from Barcelona, according to Marca (h/t Football Espana).

Young forward Samuel Chukwueze has also impressed in his six La Liga appearances. The 19-year-old is quick, good on the ball, likes to cut inside and has an eye for goal:

Both teams have looked vulnerable this season and need to start 2019 with a win for different reasons. Real Madrid will be expected to take all three points and should have the quality to pour more misery on the hosts.



Source link