The fixture might not hold as much significance as it has in recent seasons but nevertheless, Real Madrid won’t take the Villarreal challenge lightly when they travel to El Madrigal as predictably heavy odds on favourites with Paddy Power.
After a catastrophic first seven months of the 2011-12 season, The Yellow Submarine have just appointed Miguel Angel Lotina at the helm of the club, making it their third manager of the season.
Lotina was put in charge of the team earlier this week and although he has been involved with the club since 2009 in lesser respects, he faces a baptism of fire against Los Blancos.
Mathematically speaking, Villarreal could slip into the relegation zone this week providing that they lose and Racing Santander beat Sevilla on Thursday.
However, Jose Mourinho’s side have just as much incentive to come out as victors on Wednesday as they hope to maintain their distance from Barcelona and win their game in hand.
The Madrid outfit are currently five points ahead of Barça and after slipping up against Malaga on Sunday, the league leaders will be keener than ever to return to winning ways.
Real are the Primera Division’s in-form team when it comes to performing away from home and are the best in terms of attack as well as defence when playing on unfamiliar soil, but Jose Mourinho will have to shuffle the pack slightly for tonight’s game.
Left back Fabio Coentrao has been left out of the squad for disciplinary reasons after being caught smoking at his birthday celebrations, while Angel Di Maria, Ricardo Carvalho and Raul Albiol will all miss the trip.
Lotina’s side have conceded an average of 1.15 goals per game when playing at home this season and while that record isn’t the fault of the new manager, he will be striving to earn a shock debut win.
Even with a surprising victory, Villarreal will undoubtedly remain in 17th place but will be no less adamant to put a win on the board this week.