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La Liga: Emery Meets Zidane With Pressure on the Champions

La Liga: Emery Meets Zidane With Pressure on the Champions

Villarreal vs Real Madrid

It’s second versus fourth in La Liga this weekend and all the pressure is one team.

Champions Real Madrid travel to Villarreal looking to bounce back following a heavy defeat and a two-week international break in which manager Zinedine Zidane must have had mixed emotions.

Now he faces another talented coach in Unai Emery who is making people sit up and take notice again after his underwhelming 18 months in charge at Arsenal.

Talking Points

The mixed emotions for Zidane surround team selection.

He would already have been plotting a positive response after his side fared badly last time on their travels, a 4-1 reverse at Valencia immediately before the international sojourn.

Now he has to do without the services of his captain Sergio Ramos who limped off with a hamstring injury for the national team in Tuesday night’s emphatic 6-0 win against Germany.

The defender’s absence will no doubt leave an important hole in the Madrid defence with the skipper set to miss a Champions League encounter against Inter Milan next week also.

To add to the defensive woes, his main central defensive partner in Raphael Varane also suffered an injury while representing his country during a 4-2 win for France over Sweden.

On a brighter note, Nacho Fernandez is training again with his teammates after picking up an injury in El Clasico against Barcelona on October 24.

Also, Dani Carvajal — whose last appearance was against Real Valladolid at the end of September — has recovered quicker than expected which means Zidane will have his first choice right back at his disposal.

Alvaro Odriozola, who was injured at the same time as Carvajal, is also back training with the rest of his teammates and Ferland Mendy should be available after a muscle strain that caused him to miss commitments with the French national team.

There is good La Liga 2020 news further forward too with midfielder Casemiro back in training, while Eden Hazard and Eder Militao have both produced negative PCR tests.

This means they could be included in the lineup, although match fitness could be a potential issue.

How Emery would love such riches at his disposal but the fact he has guided his new employers up to second in the early standings despite key summer departures shows he still possesses the Midas touch.

In fact, Villarreal, who have already beaten Valencia this term in a local derby, were able to leapfrog this weekend’s opponents in the table last time out after a 3-1 win at Getafe.

Their charge will be led by rumoured Juventus target Gerard Moreno, who last season netted 18 goals more than any of his compatriots in La Liga.

Emery will, however, be without defenders Juan Foyth and Jaume Costa for this game with Alberto Moreno out long-term.

Before their success at Getafe which extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to nine games, Villarreal were 4-0 winners over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Europa League.

They are playing with a panache and will trouble Real who will be vulnerable if Varane does join Ramos on the sidelines.

Could this be their moment?


Of their 40 top flight meetings, Villarreal have only tasted victory on four occasions with 13 draws and 23 Real triumphs.

This corresponding fixture last term finished 2-2 when a double from Gareth Bale — now on loan at Spurs — rescued a point for the eventual champions after Gerard and Moi Gomez twice put the Yellow Submarine ahead.

In July, Real sealed a 2-1 win to clinch the La Liga title thanks to a Karim Benzema double before Mario headed one back for Villarreal.

The last time Villarreal beat Real on home turf was in 2015 when an early goal from Roberto Soldado was enough to seal three points.

That was only one of two victories over Real in their last 20 clashes.

Betting Tip

Real Madrid Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.36

Real Madrid have the edge with the  as they’re priced at 1X2 @ 2.36 and First Half 1X2 @ 2.71. Meanwhile, Villarreal can be backed 1X2 @ 2.87 and First Half 1X2 @ 3.50.

A 1X2 draw is available @ 3.35 and First Half 1X2 draw @ 2.26.

With Asian Handicap odds, Real also have the edge – 0.50 @ 2.36 with the hosts available to tip 0.00 @ 2.25.

A re-run of last year’s exciting four goal contest – correct score 2-2 – has odds of @ 10.50.

This is a difficult one to predict but I’m just about edging to Real to bounce back.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.






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James Davis
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