Real Madrid: The 3 biggest X-Factors at Villarreal on Saturday

Real Madrid, Martin Odegaard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Martin Odegaard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane of Real Madrid (Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

CB Raphael Varane

Real Madrid star center back Raphael Varane is one of the best defenders in the world, and his statistics this season are actually quite good. Per, he is completing 89.4 percent of his passes and is the team’s leader in both aerial duels won per game and interceptions. Additionally, he’s surrendered just 0.3 dribbles per game. Despite a woeful performance at Shakhtar Donetsk, his Champions League numbers are pretty similar.

That said, Varane’s had some shaky moments this season. He and Eder Militao must share a large portion of the blame for the defensive collapse at Shakhtar Donetsk. And in Real’s most recent loss to Valencia, Varane was humbled with an own goal and generally did not look at his best at the heart of the defense.

The French international is better than this. For most of the 2020-2021 season, he’s been great. But at times, he’s looked like a shell of himself. So overall, he hasn’t been at the level that is expected of him at a time when Real Madrid need more from their superstar center backs to make up for a struggling attack.

On Saturday at Villarreal, Varane will go up against the best striker partnership in La Liga in Gerardo Moreno and Paco Alcacer. Both men have scored nine goals all season long and will be hungry for more. But if Varane can have a big game, Real Madrid should win.