Gareth Bale is expected to return to the starting lineup for Real Madrid
, while Cristiano Ronaldo is unlikely to feature. Reuters
Fresh from a thoroughly satisfying victory against crosstown rivals Atletico, Real Madrid will look to keep their top form in La Liga intact when they host Villarreal at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 8 pm local time (12.30 am IST Sunday morning) start with live coverage on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD1. The match can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. Catch the action in the UK HERE, while US viewers can live stream the game HERE. Viewers in Latin America can catch the action live online HERE. The match can be live streamed in the Middle East and North Africa HERE, with the option to catch the match via live streaming in the rest of Africa HERE.
Real got the better of Atletico in the Copa Del Rey semifinal first leg in midweek, winning 3-0, and manager Carlo Ancelotti will be keen to see his side take that confidence into the weekend's match against Villarreal, who held Real to a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
"We have a very tough game. Villarreal are a very good team," Ancelotti said on Friday. "We were put under a lot of pressure in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season.
"We worked very hard on Wednesday in a game of high intensity, and to win tomorrow, we need more of the same. Maximum intensity and maximum concentration. It will no doubt be more difficult to reach that level because the game on Wednesday was very intense. But I'm convinced that the players are ready to play another game and show that same intensity."
One player likely to miss the game for Real, though, is Cristiano Ronaldo, who was slapped with a three-match ban for his red card and subsequent reaction in the game against Athletic Bilbao last weekend.
Real, who are three points behind league leaders Atletico, lost an appeal to have the ban overturned, but reports suggest the club are ready to take the issue to the Spanish Sports Disciplinary Committee in a bid to throw out the ban.
Ancelotti, though, has not named Ronaldo in his squad, which points to the fact that the Portuguese superstar is likely to watch from the stands. The Italian manager, however, will have Gareth Bale back from injury, with the manager revealing the Welshman is now fit to start the game -- a big boost in Ronaldo's absence.
"He will play from the start, he is fit," Ancelotti added. "He has no problems and is fit to play. He will be ready to perform. I always tell the truth. When I don't need to tell the truth, I don't say anything.
"When I say Bale is fit, it means that Bale is fit. When I say that Bale's absence from Wednesday's match was to prevent a recurrence of his injury, that is the truth.
"I preferred to have him match fit for tomorrow's game. He will play tomorrow, which is an indication that there was no recurrence of his injury on Wednesday. I am telling the truth. He simply took a knock to his calf from [Alvaro] Arbeloa. He was unable to play for 20-25 days but that's all. He hasn't had any problems since."
Villarreal are doing pretty well at the moment, and are in real contention for a top four place - they currently lie fifth on 40 points from 22 games, three behind fourth-placed Bilbao.
"We are facing one of the most interesting games to play and we will do it with great gusto and with great enthusiasm," Villarreal forward Jeremy Perbet told the club's official website. "It is sure to be a great game and we'll see how it goes. We know it will be a tough game. The key is to keep a clean sheet early on and be strong in defence.
"It is difficult, but we'll try. From there, we're a team that are playing well, attacking well and have shown that this season. Therefore we will try to do well in the Bernabeu and get something positive."
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: