Villarreal to spoil the title party?
On the brink of the La Liga title Real Madrid host Villarreal with a win all they need to confirm top spot and only a second domestic triumph in eight seasons. The Yellow Submarine sit fifth and have been very impressive since the resumption of play, winning six, drawing two and losing just one of their nine games, catapulting themselves into a comfortable position to secure qualification for the Europa League. The reverse fixture was an entertaining 2-2 draw with Gareth Bale netting his own two goals in the league this term, it would be surreal for the Galacticos to win the title at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium but it has seen some of their most gritty performances in recent weeks.
Zinedine Zidane’s men have kept five clean sheets from their last six games, looking strong for a sixth consecutive shutout before Granada pegged them back to a 2-1 win on Monday evening. Javier Calleja’s side are much stronger offensively, so Real will need to be on their game though they are brimming with confidence. A point from either of the last two outings would be enough to confirm European qualification for Villarreal, a good achievement when you consider they were eighth during the pause of the season.
Sometimes not so easy on the eye with his gangly frame, and a less glamorous player than the trickery and invention of Santi Cazorla but Gerard Moreno cannot be ignored and has been crucial in the Yellow Submarine’s rise. The wiry built Spain international has scored 18 and assisted five this term, a career season for the 28-year-old, his second at the club having signed for £18million from one of La Liga’s newly departed sides in Espanyol. Sometimes deployed off the right flank but usually through the middle, Moreno has three goals in as many caps for Spain, could be an unknown quantity to watch out for at Euro 2021.
A lot of plaudits go to Raphael Varane and rightly so however the man alongside is right up there in the best defenders of this century. Would Varane have developed into half of the defender he is today if he was not often alongside Sergio Ramos? The 34-year-old is ageing like a fine wine, captain of his club and country, Ramos is set to lift his 26th career honour with La Liga very soon and has had another brilliant campaign. Posting the best defensive record, conceding four less than notoriously cautious Atletico Madrid, the skipper has also contributing 12 goals from centre back.
There may be some nerves, but there are winners all over the pitch, Real will seal the championship on Thursday evening.