Real hope to continue recovery

Barcelona???s shock 1-0 defeat to Malaga last weekend allowed Madrid to open a four-point advantage after they put in one of their best La Liga??performances in weeks in a 2-0 win over Elche, making it three wins of the same scoreline since that 4-0 capitulation at Atletico.

World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo scored his side???s second at the Martinez Valero to end a three-game La Liga goal drought and open up a three-goal lead over Lionel Messi, 29-26, in their dual for the Pichichi top scorer award.

Villarreal will be no pushovers though. The Yellow Submarine are riding high in sixth place, and sailed through to the last-16 of the Europa League with a 5-2 aggregate victory over Red Bull Salzburg on Thursday.

Real winger Gareth Bale has returned to training with his team-mates as he continues his recovery from a minor ankle problem, the La Liga leaders said on Friday.

Bale had been absent from training this week after taking a knock in last weekend’s victory at Elche and should be available for Sunday’s home game against sixth-placed Villarreal. ?? ?? ????

“Gareth Bale joined up with the group and everyone completed a training session that was once again centred around ball work,” Real said on their website. ?? ?? ?? ????

Centre back Sergio Ramos and midfielders James Rodriguez and Sami Khedira are still sidelined as they continue their recuperation from injuries, the European champions added.

Villarreal???s in-form Russian winger Denis Cheryshev will be miss out as he is on-loan from Madrid.