Real Madrid v Villareal, La Liga, February 21, 2010
Real Madrid can forget their defeat in France to Lyon in midweek as they look to keep the pressure on Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table. Manuel Pellegrini will be eager to see off his former team in what looks to be their hardest challenge at the Bernabeu this season where they have a 100% record of 11 wins from 11 games. (Real Madrid are EVS to win both halves.)
The performance in France was perhaps the worst aspect of the Champions League first leg. A 1-0 deficit can be turned around in the second leg next month but it was a limp display at Stade Garland with few efforts on goal and came after momentum had been built up in recent weeks in the chase to keep up with Barcelona.
The home side will be boosted by the return of Dutch playmaker Rafael van der Vaart but Guti is still unavailable. Pellegrini will be relying on Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain who have both been in fine goal scoring form in 2009/2010. (Real Madrid are 10/11 to score in both halves.)
Villareal are in ninth in the league and may well be more concerned with progress in the Europa League with a two legged tie against Wolfsburg either side of their trip to the Bernabeu. The â€œYellow Submarineâ€ have played seven league games in 2010, winning two, drawing two and losing three.
They may be a tiny club but Villareal have some fine players and the likes of Marcos Senna and Nilmar could quite comfortably fit in to Real Madridâ€™s first team. (Villareal are 15/2 to score in both halves.) And goalkeeper Diego Lopez, left back Capdevila and former Arsenal winger Robert Pires are all capable of performing against the very best.
Real Madrid beat Villareal in the reverse fixture in September with goals from Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo and it would be no surprise if Los Blancos responded to the defeat in France with a similar result.
101gg predicts: Real Madrid 3 â€“ Villareal 0 (9/1)
Full match odds here.