Real Madrid vs Villarreal: Three things that will shape the game

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Real Madrid took full advantage of Barcelona's inability to break down a resolute Malaga side last weekend.

The three points gained against Elche was enough to see Los Blancos out on their own at the La Liga summit again, four points clear of the Catalans.

At this stage of the season, there won't be too many opportunities for Barca to capitalise on any poor form from their rivals, but the game against Villarreal may be one of them.

The Yellow Submarine are in good form themselves and will arrive at the Santiago Bernabeu with no fear.

The title is now very definitely Madrid's to lose, pressure that may be brought to bear in games such as this one.

Let's take a look at three things which may shape this La Liga game...

Denis Cheryshev to hurt parent club?

It wasn't too long ago that Carlo Ancelotti was trying to negotiate a permanent deal away from Real Madrid for Denis Cheryshev.

The young Russian had failed to impress and a loan spell at Sevilla had been disrupted by injury to such an extent that the Andalusians initial interest in a permanent transfer cooled.

Villarreal took the player on a season's loan and such has been his turnaround in fortunes that Ancelotti has now gone on record as saying he will make space in his squad for him next season.

On current form it's no wonder that Villarreal would prefer his stay at El Madrigal was longer, and the fear from Real's point of view must be that one of their own will come back to haunt them.

After making the strange decision not to make it a condition of his loan that he can't play against his parent club, Real will be kicking themselves if he ends up being the match-winner.

Wretched record at Bernabeu

If Marcelino's side want to get anything from this game, they are going to have to turn recent history on its head.

That's because Villarreal haven't won at the Santiago Bernabeu in over a decade, and in the last four games there they have shipped 17 goals against Los Blancos.

Settled nicely in sixth position, Villarreal can leapfrog Sevilla and put further daylight between themselves and the chasing pack with three precious points.

Real's ominous home form

Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema have all contributed to a quite astonishing home record.

Since the beginning of the season, in all competitions, only Atletico Madrid have stopped Los Blancos from winning.

A La Liga loss and a Copa del Rey draw against Atleti are the only black marks on their copybook. Every other match has been won.

Home is where the heart is evidently.

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