Real Madrid will travel to the Estadio de la Ceramica on Saturday to face Villarreal in La Liga. Here are three opposing players to watch.
After losing 4-1 to Valencia at the Mestalla before the November international break, the pressure is on Real Madrid to perform at a high level on Saturday afternoon at the Estadio de la Ceramica against Villarreal, who are second in the league.
Villarreal look like a formidable team under manager Unai Emery, who can make use of different tactical setups with all the attacking and midfield talent he has at his disposal after a productive summer, which included stealing away Francis Coquelin and Dani Parejo from the rival Bats on the cheap.
Here are three Villarreal players for Real Madrid to pay close attention to on Saturday.
CB Pau Torres
Former Real Madrid center back Raul Albiol is a familiar face, but the best center back on Villarreal is absolutely Pau Torres. The Spanish international keeps getting better and better, and it’s not a stretch to say that he is one of the best center backs in Europe on the strength of his performances for club and country in 2020. He may even be a Real Madrid-quality player.
Torres, per WhoScored.com, has 1.2 blocks per game, 3.6 clearances per match, and has been dribbled past just 0.2 times per game. Those are outstanding numbers, and he has been statistically more impressive than both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane purely defensively this season.
So Karim Benzema will have his hands full against Torres.
CM Dani Parejo
Dani Parejo has been one of La Liga’s best players for years. He is underrated by so many football fans because of the focus on the Premier League and on only top teams in other leagues, but Parejo deserves to be regarded as one of the best veteran midfielders in European football.
The 31-year-old is averaging a robust 2.1 tackles per game and 1.9 interceptions per game, placing him second on the team in both statistical categories. Parejo is the league’s leader in passes per game, completing nearly 90 percent of his passes.
He is the man who keeps things ticking for Unai Emery’s high-powered side, and it will be exciting to see how Zinedine Zidane gameplans around Parejo and how Toni Kroos counteracts him in the midfield.
FW Gerard Moreno
Finally, we come to the always-dangerous Gerard Moreno, who is more than just a dangerous goal-scorer. After finding the back of the net a whopping 18 times last season, Moreno has scored four goals in nine matches this season and has become even more dangerous with his dribbling in order to support Paco Alcacer (five goals of his own).
Moreno has as many goals as big-name stars Karim Benzema and Ansu Fati this season despite being his team’s secondary goal-scorer after Alcacer now. He can excel as a right-sided forward or in a traditional two-striker pairing with the former Barcelona man.
Real Madrid may be short-handed on Saturday after injuries to Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos suffered injuries during the international break. There is optimism they can play, but there is no guarantee either.
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So Moreno, who has 2.6 dribbles completed per game (fifth in La Liga) and 2.4 fouls drawn per game (ninth in the league), can take advantage of the situation.