Preview: Levante vs Real Madrid
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Two consecutive weekends of enormous La Liga matchdays are approaching and Real Madrid will face the red and blues in both of these fixtures which have the potential to define the season, although only six points are at stake. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are getting close to El Clásico but hang on! Real Madrid has important business to take care of, in La Liga this Saturday against a spirited Levante side that collected 20 points at home out of their total tally of 29. This particular stat was stressed by none other than Zinedine Zidane in the pre-match presser, so, it is evident, Real Madrid are not taking things lightly at all. They are not even in a place to do so after losing points against Celta last weekend. With Barcelona breathing down the neck and actually having an opportunity to take a provisional two-point lead before Levante would host Real Madrid, this is an absolutely must-win game for Los Blancos. Welcome to our preview for Real Madrid’s La Liga matchday 25.

Remember BBC?

Real Madrid would clearly want to avoid the result from Zidane’s last visit to Levante. Two members of Real Madrid’s former fearsome trio were subbed off, in that game. It is not often when we could see Ronaldo and Bale both being replaced, regardless of the reasons back then. But that is exactly what happened during that 2-2 draw where Isco and Ramos salvaged a point for Zidane’s sinking Madrid in La Liga.

BBC is history now and Zidane’s Real Madrid are not quite sinking at the moment but they must be true to their ideas and make sure the execution of these ideas is spot-on if they want to take all three points back home.

Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Team News

Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane has a huge squad to choose from once again but Gareth Bale and Jović will miss the game with an illness. Mariano is still working indoors while Asensio’s recovery is also going well. Here’s Zidane’s 19-man squad:

Alphonse Areola, Thibaut Courtois, Diego Altube, Dani Carvajal, Éder Militão, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Ferland Mendy, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Fede Valverde, James Rodriguez, Isco, Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, Lucas Vázquez, Vinicius Jr.

What to Expect

It was circulated in the media that Eden Hazard might sit on the bench against Levante to be at his best level against Manchester City. But Zidane seems to have ruled that out as he wants maximum focus on the next game only. However, he does have a real headache in the form of Ferland Mendy. The French left-back is one yellow card away from a suspension. If Real Madrid play with Mendy and he ends up getting booked, Madrid would have to put Marcelo against Messi and co in the Clásico. Given the current form of the legendary full-back, that might not be a very safe scenario.

Real Madrid’s midfield pretty much picks itself and there is no shortage of synchronization among them except for James Rodriguez. The Colombian has been battling with injuries and poor form at the same time. Lucas, Benzema, and Hazard look set to start in a traditional 4-3-3 formation.

Having lost four out of their last five games, Levante wouldn’t want to change many things from their robust and classic 4-4-2 approach. Levante are 13th on the table but Roger Marti and Borja Mayoral possess the speed and aggression to hurt the Real Madrid defense in vertical gameplay. Odegaard drew the blueprint for the vertical gameplay against Madrid’s solid yet static defense and Celta executed it to perfection within a few days. Enis Bardhi will be another player along with Morales in the final third who are capable of causing problems to Madrid’s defensive half-spaces.

Form

Levante: L W L L L

Real Madrid: D W L W W

Head to Head

Last 19 matches.

Levante: 3

Draws: 3

Real Madrid: 13

Probable Line-ups

Levante: Aitor; Miramon, Postigo, Vezo, Tono; Morales, Campana, Nikola, Bardhi; Marti, Mayoral.

Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Lucas, Benzema, Hazard.

Kick-off

21:00 CET, Cuidad de Valencia.

Players to Watch

Roger Marti, Levante

Can Levante’s top scorer of the season get one past Courtois?

Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid

The captain must lead from the front again to erase Real Madrid’s defensive issues.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Referee

Alejandro Hernandez will officiate in this matchday 25 fixture.

Key Quotes

“We know that the fans will urge us on during difficult moments” – Paco Lopez.

“I want to give 100% of myself as a coach every single day, that’s it. That’s all I’m interested in. Every player knows it before they step out on to the pitch, but they have to play without thinking about what might happen. The key thing is just to play, and for the players to be prepared to give one hundred percent as they always do.” – Zinedine Zidane.

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