Villarreal v Real Madrid – Estadio El Madrigal at 19:30 live on Sky Sports 1

The scars are still there and the wounds haven’t yet healed but at least memories are starting to fade, a little. It’s three weeks since Real Madrid were slaughtered 4-0 by rivals Barcelona on home soil but Los Blancos are doing their best to banish that nightmare with a series of commanding displays.

Rafa Benitez’s boys have registered five successive wins since, smashing 21 goals including eight in a record-equalling Champions League victory over Malmo in midweek. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo shared seven of those eight goals between them and last weekend’s tanking of Getafe saw Gareth Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo all score in a single game for the first time this term.

Real trail table-topping Barca by four points with their cross-city rivals Atletico two points ahead of the 10-time European champions but Benitez will be expecting his side to continue their all-conquering displays on Sunday. The capital club have W7-D3-L0 in their last 10 duels with Villarreal and another positive performance should be on the cards.

Since their win at Athletic, Madrid have alternated wins and no wins away from home in La Liga (W3-D1-L1) but they should be capable of putting away the Yellow Submarine, who’ve suffered their own stumbles of late. W5-D3-L5 has stalled their own early season progress, with only six goals in eight, but form in front of their home supporters remains strong.

Villarreal have W7-D1-L1 in their last nine at El Madrigal whilst only Barcelona (21) have picked up more points in front of their home supporters this season than the hosts’ tally of 16. Marcelinho’s men have W5-D1-L1 but kept just one clean sheet in the process and it’s that vulnerable defensive record that’s likely to be their undoing on Sunday.

Looking further back, the Yellow Submarine have run out winners in 21 of their last 29 contests at home across all competitions. However, they’ve kept just six shutouts in their most recent 19. Taking purely La Liga games into account, Villarreal have W15-D2-L4 as hosts but only kept their sheets clean in three of the most recent 14.

Still, Roberto Soldado and Cedric Bakambu have struck up a decent partnership in attack and Real Madrid are far from the finished article at the back. The guests are struggling with a batch of injuries and so, although they’re the most likely winners, it’d be a surprise if they shut Villarreal out.

Nine of Los Blancos’ last 10 away fixtures against top-six rivals have delivered three or more goals with half of those matches even proving profitable for Over 3.5 Goals hunters. Benitez’s boys are averaging 2.3 goals-per-game and could catch the slow starters cold considering they were involved in a topsy-turvy 3-3 thriller with Plzen on Thursday.

However, usual centre-half Raphael Varane is missing on Sunday and last season the capital club conceded in 8/9 away to other top-half finishers (W5-D0-L4) and this term they’ve notched just one clean sheet in their last five on the road Varane’s absence increases the chance they’ll leak again so take a punt on a high-scoring encounter with Over 3 Goals trading at 1.86.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 3 Goals at 1.86

Price correct at the time of writing.

By @MarkOHaire

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