Spain La Liga: Villarreal - Real Madrid
Another big team facing a crucial game. Real have scored 17 goals in their last five starts since their humiliation at home to Barcelona, but it is an understatement to say that the opposition has been poor and Malmo's showing in midweek was disgraceful and today will be a far sterner test. Howver, Barce dropping two points at home to Deportivo last night is surely all the further incentive needed, Real can close to within two points of the leaders with a win and opportunities to make up ground to that degree over the coming months are going to be few and far between. Thet arrive with not just James, Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad, but most of the other big names too and Pepe and Ramos are set to play together in the centre of the defence for just the third time this season and they have not conceded in the previous 100+ minutes when the duo have been on the pitch together. Real have two home games after this to finish 2015 and can go into the New Year on a real high if they win today.
The hosts had to make a lot of changes in the summer and that looked to have been a seemless transition after they opened with 16 points from their first six starts to sit top of La Liga, but just eight from a possible 24 since and in recent outings they have looked a pale imitation of their early season selves. They have never been prolific scorers and they have scored the fewest of any team in the top eight and just six times in their last eight starts, that is acceptable , to a degree, if your backline is watertight, but those days have also disappeared and they have given up 15 goals in their last nine games in all competitions and conceding and not scoring , will not win you many games ! This looks a good time for Real to be in town, they have "only" won on 4 of their last 7 visits to El Madrigal, but all wins came by two plus goals and they can win in similar fashion this evening, motivation will increase further should Atletico also drop points in a tough afternoon fixture.
Real :Keylor Navas, Kiko Casilla , Rubén Yáñez, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo ,Danilo, Kroos, James, Bale, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric , Isco, Jesé, Lucas Vázquez, Benzema , Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid -1 ball 2.17 asian line/Sportmarket