Ciutat de Valencia, Valencia
18 October 2014, 14:00 GMT
La Liga returns to action after the International break as Real Madrid face Levante in gameweek 8 before a series of tough fixtures.
Levante play hosts to Real Madrid on Saturday in a contest which will prove to be very testing for the Valencia-based side. Levante have won only one league game this season which was a 1-0 victory against Granada and the club are placed 17th in the league table. Levante come into this game after drawing 3-3 with Eibar before the International break. It is going to be a tough challenge for manager Jose Mendilibar to contain a free-scoring Real Madrid at the Ciutat de Valencia. If Levante can secure at least a point from this fixture, the result should be more than satisfactory for the manager having seen a disastrous start to the campaign. Levante have lost all three of their home matches this term, failing to score and conceding nine goals in the process.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid are in fine form having won 4 successive league matches – scoring a mammoth 20 goals in the process. Currently placed 4th in the league table, Real Madrid trail league leaders Barcelona by four points. The match against Levante may not be a very big hurdle for The Whites. However, the fixture is an important one and Real Madrid must be looking to win this at any cost. The game will be followed by a tough week for Real, as they face Liverpool and Barcelona in the coming week. A slip-up against Levante will prove very damaging for Real Madrid as it will be more difficult to catch-up with current league toppers Barcelona.
Levante have won only one game against Real Madrid at home in La Liga face-off. The win came in 2011, with Levante scoring the only goal in the game.
Levante announced on Wednesday that the club will be without defender Vyntra, who suffered a pulled hamstring while on international duty with Greece. Vyntra is arguably Levante’s best defender and his absence will it make it more difficult for the home side to contain Real Madrid’s menacing attack. Levante have also confirmed that Rafael Martins, who was just given medical clearance from his previous injury, suffered yet another setback that is sure to keep him out of this weekend’s match and depending on the tests, the Brazilian could be out for as long as a month. Camarasa, who impressed in the 3-3 draw against Eibar, is expected to start the game.
Manager Mendilibar will field Marino in between the sticks protected by a back four of Lopez, Adoua, Rodas and Lopez. Supporting the defence will be deep-lying midfielders Diop and Camarasa. Casadesus, who scored a goal against Eibar, will play in the hole supported by Garcia and Morales on the flanks. Barral will play as a lone striker in the 4-2-3-1 formation.
Predicted Line-Up (4-2-3-1) – Marino; Lopez, Adoua, Rodas, Lopez; Diop, Camarasa; Garcia, Casadesus, Morales; Barral;
German midfielder Khedira’s return to training following injury on Wednesday means that Real Madrid will only be without Sergio Ramos and Jese Rodriguez. Keylor Navas is unlikely to face his former side as Ancelotti has confirmed Casillas will start despite increasing criticism following some poor performances for Real and Spain of late. Ancelotti also confirmed that Varane and Benzema may not feature on Saturday as the French duo is suffering from fever. The manager also confirmed that Isco will start the game as James Rodriguez might be rested in order to keep the Colombian fresh for the upcoming fixture against Liverpool. Ancelotti also hinted that Javier Hernandez may start in place of Benzema.
Real Madrid is expected to play highly attacking football against Levante on Saturday and will play in the 4-3-3 formation. Casillas will start the game behind a back four consisting of Carvajal, Pepe, Nacho and Marcelo. The midfield three will feature Modric, Kroos and Isco. Bale and Ronaldo will occupy the wings with Chicharito linking up the play between the two.
Predicted Line-Up: Casillas; Carvajal, Pepe, Nacho, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Hernandez, Ronaldo;
Player to watch out for
Having scored 13 goals in just 6 league games, Ronaldo is already miles ahead in the Pichichi race. the Portuguese comes into the game after scoring the sole goal in his national side’s victory in the Euro qualifiers. The forward is in sublime form and will be raring to go and exploit a morale-lacking Levante side.
Levante 0-3 Real Madrid
Levante may have looked good in the draw against Eibar but it seems impossible that the hosts will be able to bring an end to Real Madrid’s recent winning streak. Real Madrid are at their attacking best and will try to kill the game by making most of their chances and piling an early heavy lead.