The fixture was due to take place in December but was rearranged due to Los Blancos’ participation in the Club World Cup, where they were crowned champions for a third straight season, and will aim to begin the new year with a fourth successive league victory.
The hosts rounded off the previous twelve months in the relegation zone and their home form has been particularly poor. Villarreal have won just one home match in La Liga all season and bet365 offer them at 3/1 (4.00) to improve that record on Thursday.
Real Madrid have been far from their best on the road winning just two of their last seven away games, but the European champions are offered at 5/6 (1.83) with the draw available at 29/10 (3.90).
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Midfielder Marcos Llorente has been ruled out with a muscle injury for Real Madrid, with Casemiro likely to take his place. Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz remain unavailable for Solari.
Villarreal have captain Mario Gaspar suspended for the clash after his red card at Huesca.
The Estadio de la Ceramica is usually a tough place to visit but this term Villarreal have struggled badly in front of their own fans, with their only first half goal of the season at home coming back in August.
Real Madrid too have not been flying out of the blocks away from home, with Solari’s side managing only three goals in the opening half of their eight games on the road so far.
On a winter night in the middle of the week with a late kick off of 9.30pm local time (8:30pm UK time), there is every chance that these two sides fail to score an early goal once more.
Tips and predictions
Six of the eight league matches played at the Estadio de la Ceramica this term have been goalless at the break and under 0.5 goals in the opening 45 minutes is offered at 5/2 (3.50). Opposing a goal before 25 minutes also looks like an excellent option at 5/6 (1.83).