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Real Madrid

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Ronaldo, Bale set to return

Real Madrid
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 By Rob Train

Real Madrid set to benefit as Villarreal rest stars at Bernabeu

The ESPN FC crew weigh in on the possibility of players striking in MLS, the role of Isco at Real Madrid and their preference between Rakitic and Fabregas.

The upcoming fixture calendar has been kind to Real Madrid, as they prepare to face a Villarreal side not-so-fresh from Europa League action.

Future opponents Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona also both will have played midweek matches before meeting a rested Madrid in the league.

Athletic face Espanyol in the Copa del Rey semifinals on Wednesday before welcoming Real to San Mames three days later, while Real don't face Schalke until March 10 with Levante at home on March 15.

Meanwhile, Barca play Man...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Carlo Ancelotti stands behind decision to sub off Isco in Real Madrid draw

ESPN FC's Tommy Smyth breaks down Real Madrid's 1-1 draw with Villarreal.

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was in no mood to apologise for removing midfielder Isco from his side's 1-1 draw with Villarreal on Sunday.

The Italian manager subbed off the popular Spanish international for more defensive-minded midfielder Asier Illarramendi with 10 minutes remaining and Real in search of a winning goal.

Speaking to the media after the game, the coach stood firm behind his decision.

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"A coach makes the changes he believes are best for his team. If the fans don't understand [the...

Real Madrid held to 1-1 draw with Villarreal in wild back-and-forth match

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ESPN FC's Tommy Smyth breaks down Real Madrid's 1-1 draw with Villarreal.

Real Madrid were held 1-1 at home by Villarreal to remain only two points ahead of rivals Barcelona in the Primera Division.

Cristiano Ronaldo's second-half penalty looked to have set Madrid on their way to victory.

But Villarreal, who impressed for long stretches of the game and whose goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo was outstanding, got their reward with Gerard Moreno's equaliser.

Surprisingly it was Villarreal who started on the front foot and they almost took the lead in the 12th minute.

Moi Gomez's...