Sky Live: Villarreal v Real Madrid: Gareth Bale '100 per cent' fit
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 26/02/17 7:32pm
Zinedine Zidane has urged Real Madrid to swiftly put a shock midweek defeat behind them when they face Villarreal, live on Sky Sports.
Madrid would have moved four points clear at the summit if they had beaten lowly Valencia in what was the first of two games they had in hand on all their title rivals.
However, two early goals at the Mestalla consigned the European champions to a 2-1 loss - only their second league reverse of the season - and brought to an end a four-match winning streak in La Liga.
Madrid coach Zidane has told his side they cannot dwell on that setback as they prepare to take on a Villarreal side who, with only 15 goals conceded in 23 games this season, boast the meanest defence in the division.
"It (Valencia game) was a chance to pick up points; we didn't and that's that. We need to think about (Sunday's) game and the chance to get back to winning. What's happened has happened.
"That we're now facing the team with the least goals conceded in La Liga makes it more difficult still. We know that they are very good opponents, defensively organised and who defend as a block.
"We know that we must always look to keep on improving, because for the teams we are playing their game of the year is against Madrid. I've watched teams we've been playing in some of their previous matches and I don't see the same side that plays us," he said.
"That's normal, to play against Madrid is an extra motivation and we have to take that into account."
Madrid suffered a blow ahead of the trip to El Madrigal with news that centre-back Raphael Varane is facing up to six weeks out through injury.
Fellow defender Danilo is also sidelined but Pepe is available while Zidane says Gareth Bale is "at 100 per cent" after recovering from his lengthy injury lay-off.
Villarreal go into the match on the back of a creditable 1-0 Europa League victory over Roma on Thursday, although a 4-0 first-leg defeat at home spelled the end of their continental adventure.
Now the Yellow Submarine will switch their full attention to getting back into Europe again next season, with the club currently sixth in La Liga, six points adrift of Atletico Madrid in fourth.
Coach Fran Escriba said: "We trust in our possibilities and we want to win to achieve our objectives.
"Real Madrid are always the favourites in every game they play, but we've always competed well against the big sides and I have faith that we will have our chances to win."
Villarreal will be without injured duo Jose Angel Valdes and Nicolas Sansone for the clash.
Watch Real Madrid v Villarreal on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7.30pm and follow with our live blog on skysports.com and the Sky Sports apps.