Villarreal vs Real Madrid top tips: Goals on the menu in vital La Liga clash

Can Villarreal put a speed bump on Real Madrid's road to the La Liga title? Tipstrr football expert Paul Bathurst has been studying the form of both teams to see where this crucial clash might take us

Rewind one season and the then-manager of Villarreal, Unai Emery, managed to mastermind successive 0-0 draws against the eventual champions. 

Since then, Emery has left for pastures new, taking over at Premier League side Aston Villa, leaving Quiqui Setien to take the helm, and his style has started to take effect with consecutive league wins against Espanyol and, more recently, Valencia.

Real Madrid, as would be expected, have started the season superbly, losing just once so far, a highly surprising 3-2 reversal at Rayo Vallecano in the penultimate game before the World Cup.

Carlo Ancelotti's side currently share an identical 12-2-1 record with rivals Barcelona, so the Madristas know they can ill afford to slip up when they visit Villarreal.

One thing that has been promised in Real Madrid games this season is goals, with 73 per cent of their league games featuring at least three, while they have yet to be involved in a single 0-0 draw.

Villarreal matches have been slightly less entertaining in terms of the scorelines, although it must be noted that their talismanic striker Gerard Moreno has missed half of the season due to a hamstring issue.

Last week Villarreal defeated Valencia 2-1, despite having fallen behind in the first half, a game in which both sides had multiple big chances with the overall total xG totalling 3.49.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, needed two late Karim Benzema strikes, the first from the penalty spot, to see off Real Valladolid by a 2-0 score line, in a game which the Galactico's completely dominated with an xG score of 2.99 against Valladolid's 0.99.

It would be no shock to learn that Real Madrid are among the top two teams in terms of chances created, although interestingly, they are level with weaker sides Osasuna and Mallorca in terms of how many chances give up.

Barcelona boast the stingiest defence in terms of xG, whilst Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao all rank higher than Real Madrid.

Villarreal themselves have conceded just 11 times in the league this season, although much of this would appear to be either thanks to great goalkeeping from Geronimo Rulli, or simply sheer luck, having given up chances totalling to over 19 xG.

Those numbers suggest it is highly unlikely that The Yellow Submarine will maintain such a stellar defensive record, currently only bettered by league leaders Barcelona.

The aforementioned Rulli has been the subject of interest from Dutch giants Ajax, and the Argentinian is unlikely to start this weekend, with Pepe Reina in line to keep his place between the posts.

Karim Benzema, the hero of last week, will lead the line again for the away side, with the Frenchman hoping to add to his tally in the race for the Pichichi, and he could be worth a dabble in the anytime goalscorer market at better than even money.

With Real Madrid feeling the pressure to keep pace with Barcelona, a victory here is vital and it can be expected to be an open game considering both sides' defensive metrics. The quality at the top end of the pitch is undoubted, it is likely that both teams score with over 2.75 goal line looking a very appealing wager at 17/20.

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