Real Madrid went through a rough patch at some point in late October but have been excellent ever since. They also won the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi and will now emerge from the winter break with a tough match. They will be hosted by Villarreal on Thursday, a team that is generally really strong and competitive but this season they have struggled a lot.
Date/Time: 1-3-2019, 15:30 EST
Spread: Real Madrid -0.5
Total: 3 Goals
Villarreal (3-7-6) bit off more than they could chew this season with their participation in the Europa League. They have actually done a great job there and topped their group, which has them reaching the knock-out round. But having to play in one extra competition did not do the squad any favors. Villarreal have been quite bad in the La Liga so far in the season and it is no wonder they are sitting below the red line. They are just one point behind Athletic Bilbao who are also struggling, but both teams should be able to avoid the relegation this season. Villarreal conceded a late goal in their last match to split the points in a 2-2 draw on the road against Huesca. They have won just one of their eight league matches at home this season (1-4-3), but they have three more wins and a draw in other competitions. They have been really solid there lately, losing just one of their last seven in all competitions (4-1-2).
On the other hand, Real Madrid (9-5-2) had a seemingly easy match at home against Rayo Vallecano in their last match before the break. They even took the lead at the 13th minute with Benzema, but were mediocre at best. Their opponents were pushing for an equalizer and Real Madrid will be glad that they didn’t concede. After that they played a couple of matches in the FIFA Club World Cup against Kashima and Al Ain, winning both on their way to capture the trophy. When it comes to the La Liga, Real Madrid are now sitting at the 4th spot of the league table with 29 points, one head of Alaves and three behind Sevilla. They are still eight points behind arch-rivals Barcelona and will need a miracle in order to challenge the title. Real Madrid have not been very good on the road so far in the league (3-4-1) but have won five of their last six in all competitions.
The two teams split the points in a 2-2 draw in this venue last season, and Villarreal actually beat Real Madrid by 1-0 on the road. They have been pretty solid in this match-up in recent years (2-2-3) but have not had much luck as hosts. They have won just one of their last eight home matches against Real Madrid (1-4-3).
Villarreal will surely look to move out of the relegation zone but Real Madrid have been healthier than ever and in good shape overall. This might not be a very easy match for Real Madrid but they certainly have the upper hand here.
La Liga Villarreal vs Real Madrid Prediction: Real Madrid -0.5 (-116)
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