By Johnny Edward.
Villarreal will be banking on Nigerian winger, Samuel Chukwueze, to compound the woes of Real Madrid when both teams clash in Thursday’s (tonight) Copa del Rey round of 16 clash at La Ceramica, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The Yellow Submarines are aiming to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the third time in four seasons.
Quique Setien’s side, who defeated Los Blancos 2-1 12 days ago, played out a 1-1 draw with Celta Vigo in their most recent outing, while Los Blancos fell to a 3-1 defeat to Barcelona in the final of the Supercopa de Espana in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last Sunday.
Chukwueze has been in blistering form this season, as the Yellow Submarines go unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions.
The 23-year-old, who has also matched his best-ever goals and assists tally in a season, will also be aiming to score his fourth goal in the competition this term for Setien’s side.
He scored twice for Villarreal in their win over Santa Amalia and was also on target as they edged past FC Cartagena in this year’s Copa del Rey.
Indeed, the Yellow Submarine are sitting pretty in fifth in the La Liga table — only behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid on goal difference — but at the same time, only one goal separates Villarreal from fellow 28-pointer Real Betis in sixth spot.
Speaking ahead of the game, Setien noted the importance of not allowing Real Madrid to have possession of the ball.
“We will focus on this aspect in this match because if you let Madrid have the ball it will create more problems for you,” Setien explained. “We have had predisposition and we must be effective in our press. I’m looking forward to the match.”
The Yellow Submarine have not progressed further than the last eight since losing to Barcelona in the 2014-15 semi-finals — their best-ever finish in the competition — but a first-ever piece of domestic silverware is long overdue for the Ceramica outfit.
Madrid will be without trio Lucas Vazquez, Aurelien Tchouameni and David Alaba for the encounter.