Real Madrid: 3 advantages Los Blancos have against Villarreal

Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Toni Kroos
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid still have the better midfield

A lot hinges on whether Casemiro and Eden Hazard are available to play after missing the last game against Valencia with COVID-19, but Real’s advantage in the midfield battle cannot be underestimated here.

Villarreal have some good midfielders. Former Valencia man Dani Parejo has been one of La Liga’s best for a long time, Francis Coquelin is excellent defensively, and Vicente Iborra is another experienced and well-rounded La Liga midfielder.

But can they really stand toe-to-toe with a potential midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Martin Odegaard? Fede Valverde is a huge loss, no doubt, but Real Madrid have so much depth and talent in the middle of the park that they still have an overwhelming advantage in midfield. Kroos and Modric can control games, and either Isco or Odegaard could start to cause major creative headaches to Villarreal’s back four.

A healthy Odegaard could be a major boost to Real Madrid, as he was one of La Liga’s best chance-creators and overall attacking players in 2019-2020. In one instant, he can change the game with a well-placed, line-breaking pass.

Even if Casemiro can’t start, Real Madrid are still dangerous in midfield with Modric and Kroos controlling the match as a double-pivot. They would run some risk against the steel of Coquelin or Iborra, and they would have to watch out for Alcacer and Moreno defensively. But we saw them succeed against an equally competent La Liga side in Real Sociedad, holding them to a clean sheet on Matchday 1 at the Anoeta Stadium.

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So the midfield advantage is still very much Real Madrid’s despite some question marks regarding Casemiro, and that’s an advantage we’ll need to see play out on Saturday afternoon at the Estadio de la Ceramica. This is where the game will be won or lost for Los Blancos.