Real Madrid will hope to return to winning ways in La Liga when they travel to Levante on Saturday evening.
Zinedine Zidane’s side were held to a surprising 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu last time out, but still sit top of the table, just ahead of fierce rivals Barcelona.
When these sides met earlier in the season, Los Blancos’ eventual 3-2 victory was far from straight forward – with Real made to work hard for the three points. But the hosts have been struggling of late, losing four of their previous five league games.
Real will be distracted by the prospect of playing Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League, but should recognise what’s at stake here and they were unlikely to underestimate their opponents.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of the game.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 22nd February|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is It Played?||The Estadi Ciutat de València|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||LaLiga TV|
|Referee?||Alejandro José Hernández Hernández|
Levante’s injury problems continue, and they will again be unable to call upon the services of Rober Pier, Cheick Doukoure, Nemanja Radoja, Gonzalo Melere and Hernani.
Midfielder Ruben Rochina is also a doubt with a muscular complaint.
As for Real, Gareth Bale and Luka Jovic are both doubts for Saturday. The pair were absent during Wednesday’s training session after suffering from a stomach bug.
Long-term absentees Mariano Diaz and Marco Asensio continue their respective recoveries, but
Eden Hazard could start ahead of the clash with City, while Isco, Luka Modric and Ferland Mendy will also be in contention after being benched last weekend.
|Levante:||Fernandez; Miramon, Postigo, Vezo, Clerc; Bardhi, Vukcevic, Campana, Morales; Marti, Mayoral|
|Real Madrid:||Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Casemiro, Modric; Hazard, Benzema, Isco|
Head to Head Record
As previously mentioned, these two sides played out a highly entertaining fixture back in September.
Real were cruising early on, taking a 3-0 lead thanks to Karim Benzema‘s brace, before two second half goals from Levante set up a nervy finale.
That game was not the first instance of Real struggling to get past Levante, with recent encounters between the two closely contested. Both sides picked up respective 2-1 wins on the road last season, and Real also dropped points the season before in a 2-2 draw.
Real Madrid’s La Liga form of late has been excellent. They are unbeaten since October, and have won five of their previous six fixtures – only to drop two points last week against Celta Vigo. They also boast the best away record in the division.
They were, however, beaten 4-3 at home in their Copa del Rey quarter final against Real Sociedad earlier in February, proving their defence is not as watertight as they would like.
Levante were beaten last time out, losing 2-1 to Villarreal. In fact, they have lost five of their previous six in the league, with their only three points coming in a 2-0 victory over struggling Leganes.
Here’s each side’s last five results across all competitions:
|Villarreal 2-1 Levante (15/02)||Real Madrid 2-2 Celta Vigo (16/02)|
|Levante 2-0 Leganes (08/02)||Osasuna 1-4 Real Madrid (09/02)|
|Barcelona 2-1 Levante (02/02)||Real Madrid 3-4 Real Sociedad (06/02)|
|Osasuna 2-0 Levante (24/01)||Real Madrid 1-0 Atlético Madrid (01/02)|
|Sevilla 3-1 Levante (21/01)||Zaragoza 0-4 Real Madrid (29/01)|
Zidane may well have one eye on his side’s Champions League fixture next week, yet he will also know Barcelona are breathing down their necks in La Liga.
The Catalan giants have struggled for consistency in their quest to retain their title, but dropped points from Real here would allow them back into the title race.
Levante’s form of late has been rather woeful, and a visit from La Liga’s top side will prove a difficult fixture for them to overturn their poor run.
Even with a rotated side, Real should have no issues winning this one.
Prediction: Levante 1-3 Real Madrid