The Yellow Submarine have made an excellent start to the season, with 18 points from nine games earning them second place in the league. Los Blancos are two points and two places behind, albeit with a game in hand.
Villarreal extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to nine games with a 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the UEFA Europa League followed by an impressive 3-1 win away to Getafe. Paco Alcacer, Manu Trigueros and Gerard Moreno all found the net for Villarreal in a spectacular display by the visitors.
Real Madrid came crashing down to earth after defeating Inter Milan 3-2 in the UEFA Champions League, with Valencia eviscerating Los Blancos 4-1 at the Mestalla.
In a truly bizarre game, Madrid conceded three penalties, which were all converted by hattrick-hero Carlos Soler, with Raphael Varane also putting through his own net.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring with a thunderous strike midway through the first half, but that was long forgotten by the time the final whistle blew.
Real Madrid have won four of their last 10 games against Villarreal, with the Yellow Submarine managing two wins and four draws in that period.
Los Blancos defeated Villarreal the last time the teams met at the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano, a 2-1 win in June that ended with Real Madrid lifting the La Liga trophy after the game.
Villarreal form guide: D-W-W-W-W
Real Madrid form guide: W-D-W-W-L
Unai Emery is without defenders Juan Foyth and Jaume Costa for this game, with Alberto Moreno also out long-term.
However, the former Arsenal manager has a settled lineup - with the only variation being Samu Chukwueze in a 4-4-2 formation or Dani Parejo in a 4-3-3. He's likely to stick with the side that beat Getafe.
Injuries: Juame Costa, Alberto Moreno
Doubtful: Juan Foyth
Zinedine Zidane has a potential injury crisis on his hands, as Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane both limped off the pitch with injuries while in action for their international teams. Eder Militao and Eden Hazard continue to return positive COVID-19 tests, while Nacho is not fully fit yet.
Youngster Victor Chust is an emergency option at centre-back should Varane and Ramos not pass late fitness tests. Casemiro tested negative for COVID-19, so he will return along with Dani Carvajal. This will likely solve Madrid's problems at right-back.
Injuries: Fede Valverde
Covid-19: Eden Hazard, Eder Militao
Doubtful: Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane.
Villarreal Predicted XI (4-3-3): Sergio Asenjo (GK); Mario Gaspar, Raul Albiol, Pau Torres, Alfonso Pedraza; Dani Parejo, Manu Trigueros, Vicente Iborra; Gerard Moreno, Paco Alcacer, Moi Gomez
Real Madrid Predicted XI (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois (GK); Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Casemiro, Ferland Mendy; Toni Kroos, Martin Odegaard, Luka Modric; Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
The last three times Villarreal hosted Real Madrid, the game ended in a 2-2 draw. Madrid's backline has looked quite leaky this season, and Paco Alcacer and Gerard Moreno will be chomping at the bit to take advantage of a makeshift Madrid backline.
With the brilliance of Karim Benzema up front, Los Blancos are always a threat, so they could edge a high-scoring contest.
Prediction: Villarreal 2-3 Real Madrid