Two of the four remaining unbeaten teams in La Liga play will do battle on Saturday, as Villarreal hosts mighty Real Madrid.
The home side has been quite good this year, winning its three matches and scoring eight goals in the process, only trailing Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in that regard. Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos has been excellent, with two goals and two assists in early play.
But this is Real Madrid, and Los Blancos should be bolstered by a high-profile debut in this contest. There's your tease, folks—let's break down this La Liga clash.
When: Saturday, September 14 at 4 p.m. ET (9 p.m. BST)
Where: El Madrigal, Villarreal, Spain
Odds: Real Madrid (64 percent), Villarreal (16.6 percent) and draw (19.3 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
After a summer of speculation and eventually a record signing, Gareth Bale will finally play for Real Madrid. His manager, Carlo Ancelotti, said so on Friday, via ESPN:
Bale will play in a position based from the right. [He and Cristiano Ronaldo] are two great players. I am convinced that working together will help the team to be better. [Bale] is very excited to be here. He is happy to be at the team he wanted to join. He is a humble player who likes to be with his teammates and be part of the group.
He will play, but I do not know if he will start the match, or if he plays in the second half. Everyone knows he did not have a normal pre-season. He trained alone [during August], and he had 10 days training with his national team. He is not at 100 percent, but he is not bad.
With Mesut Ozil expected to debut for Arsenal on Saturday as well, there will be keen interest around the globe to see these debuts, namely that of Bale, the latest Galactico. Of course, Bale could hardly be blamed if he was a bit rusty after a bizarre summer filled with its share of knocks for the Welshman.
Bale's debut—and how he will coexist with Ronaldo—is one of many questions for Real Madrid. How will Isco perform knowing Real Madrid's No. 10 role, abandoned by Ozil, is now his and his alone? Can Real Madrid survive injuries to both Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao if neither is available?
And just how much trouble can this Villarreal team pose to Real Madrid, in Villarreal?
This is no easy fixture for Los Blancos. Expect a battle.
Which team wins?
Real Madrid is a bit beat up, on the road and has yet to play a match after Bale officially joined and Ozil departed. The club is a bit ripe for an upset.
Still, anytime you have a player like Ronaldo, you have a chance, and the talent of Real Madrid alone should ensure they at least take a point in this contest.
Expect an exciting, high-scoring affair. This one ends in a draw, 2-2.