Real Madrid's La Liga Triumph

As the curtain begins to close on the 2023-24 La Liga season, Real Madrid finds themselves basking in the afterglow of another triumphant campaign. Clinching the title ahead of the penultimate game, the Madridistas are in high spirits. The joys of victory, however, don’t signal an end to serious business on the pitch. Carlo Ancelotti’s squad is set to face Villarreal at Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday, May 19th. This fixture, while seemingly less critical given their secured domestic triumph, forms a crucial part of their ongoing preparations for the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.

Upcoming Fixtures: Villareal and Real Betis

Despite securing the La Liga title, Real Madrid looks forward to a congested schedule ahead. After their clash with Villarreal, they will face Real Betis, another strong opponent in the league, which serves as their last domestic test before they set their sights on European glory. The fixture against Villarreal is set for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff, and fans can catch the action live on ESPN+. It promises to be a fascinating duel, not just because of its timing post-title victory, but due to the tactical adjustments Carlo Ancelotti tends to make. Anticipation surrounds his lineup choices – he might opt to rest key players or even trial new tactics ahead of their significant European encounter.

Villarreal: A Tough Opponent Despite Injuries

Villarreal, currently bogged down by an extensive injury list, will be hosting Real Madrid at Estadio de la Ceramica, a venue known for its vibrancy and support. The 'Yellow Submarine,' as they are affectionately called, will miss the services of seven key players, including stalwarts like Raul Albiol, Francis Coquelin, and Gerard Moreno. These absences will certainly affect their dynamics on the pitch, but Villarreal is known for its resilience and tactical flexibility under their determined manager. The projected starting eleven for Villarreal shows promise, featuring Jorgensen in goal, Cuenca and Bailly in defense, Mosquera, and Traore in supporting roles. Even with a depleted squad, a well-coached Villarreal side can still pose a substantial threat to any opposition, including the recently crowned champions.

Betting Odds and Playing Strategy

For the enthusiasts, the betting odds offer intriguing insights. Villarreal stands at +200, while a draw is marked at +250, and Real Madrid’s victory is favored at +120. These numbers reflect not just the form and injuries but also the depth and adaptability of both squads. With Villarreal’s inclination to play defensively disciplined football combined with quick counter-attacks, Real Madrid will need to be astute and adaptable. Ancelotti has often navigated such fixtures with a blend of experienced heads and youthful exuberance, and we might see the same approach here.

Predicted Lineups

Real Madrid’s lineup for Sunday is predicted to include a range of rotations and experiments. Ancelotti is known for giving opportunities to young talents and rotating his squad to maintain a competitive edge and freshness. The projected starting eleven features Lunin in goal, Vazquez and Rudiger in defense, with Nacho and F. Garcia forming a solid backline. The midfield might include the likes of Ceballos and Camavinga, giving rest to the regular starters. Luka Modric’s return to the lineup could offer the necessary balance with his vast experience. Upfront, Guler, Brahim, and Joselu are expected to spearhead the attack, bringing a mix of flair and finishing prowess. This blend of experienced and young players would not only keep the team competitive but also provide valuable rest to essential players ahead of the Champions League final.

Looking Ahead to Borussia Dortmund

The anticipation around the Champions League final on June 1 at Wembley further elevates this fixture’s significance. Real Madrid’s clash with Borussia Dortmund is highly anticipated, with fans expecting a thrilling encounter. Both teams have shown exceptional form in the European competition, and their paths to the final have been nothing short of dramatic. For Real Madrid, having the right momentum and squad fitness will be crucial as they aim to secure yet another European title. The potential rotational strategy against Villarreal can ensure that key players are well-rested, tactics fine-tuned, and any strategic adjustments can be trialed without the pressure of losing points in La Liga.


As the season draws to its climactic end, Real Madrid finds themselves balancing the jubilation of their La Liga triumph with the focus required for upcoming fixtures. The match against Villarreal offers more than just a contest for three points; it’s a vital cog in the team's preparation machinery. Carlo Ancelotti’s strategic choices, the form of both squads, and the looming Champions League final all make this an intriguing encounter to watch. Real Madrid fans will be hoping that their team continues its winning streak, setting the stage for an epic showdown at Wembley.