Real_Madrid_CF.svgReal Madrid C.F.200px-Levante_Unión_Deportiva,_S.A.D._logo.svg

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Levante UD

Estadio Santiago Bernebau, Madrid

Sunday, 06.00pm  BST

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Real Madrid go into today’s match knowing that a win will secure a four point lead at top over fierce rivals Barcelona.

Los Blancos are having a great year 2014 as they are still undefeated, and they were five points behind both Atletico and Barca heading into January.

This weekend, following a week littered with internationals, they will look to keep their lead at the summit when they welcome Levante to the Bernabeu on Sunday evening.

Team news and tactics

Real Madrid

After a tough derby, followed by the majority of the squad taking part in friendlies for their countries, it is suggested that Carlo Ancelotti is going to take the opportunity to rotate his line-up.

Lopez will be between the sticks against Levante.

Lopez received some criticism for not saving Gabi’s long-range effort last weekend, but Iker Casillas leapt to his defence when speaking the club’s official website.

“Up until now the gaffer has gone with Diego in the league and he is playing very well. We are leaders on our own merit and a lot of that is down to Diego,” he said.

Raphael Varane is expected to come into the side. Pepe, who has been the normal starter alongside Sergio Ramos this season, missed Portugal’s friendly with an illness and is expected to be given a bit more time to recover. There could also be two changes on either side of the back four. Dani Carvajal and Marcelo have been tipped to line up as the full-backs, with Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Coentrao dropping out.

In Midfield also, Ancelotti is expected to make one more change. Angel di Maria could make way for Isco to be handed a start. Elsewhere, Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso should be the men to play alongside the former Malaga man, but in the name of rotation, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if Asier Illarramendi was to be handed a game.

Sami Khedira, as ever, remains in Germany recovering from the injury he sustained earlier in the season.

Changes are not expected across the front three.

Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema all scored on international duty in midweek and the three of them, now more affectionately known at the “BBC,” will all be looking to add to their goal tallies.

Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema all scored on international duty in midweek and the three of them, now more affectionately known at the “BBC,” will all be looking to add to their goal tallies.

Expected starting X1 (4-3-3)Diego Lopez; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso, Isco; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

real madrid

Team news and tactics

Levante

While the odds of collecting three points would be in Real’s favor, Levante’s run of good form cannot be overlooked.

Les Granotes enter the weekend on an eight-match unbeaten run, a stretch that has seen them climb to eighth place in the top flight and take points off Barcelona.

Levante nearly even stole a win over Real Madrid when the two sides met at the Cuidad de Valencia on Oct. 5. Nabil El Zhar thought he had won it when his 86th-minute strike gave the home side a 2-1 lead, but Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo scored at the death to overturn the margin and send Real Madrid home with a 3-2 victory.

The Galacticos would figure to be more comfortable playing on home soil on Sunday, but if fatigue from a slate of midweek international friendlies sets in on Madrid’s squad, a share of the spoils for Levante may be in the cards.

 

Expected starting X1 (4-4-2): Navas ; Vyntra , Juanfran , Navarro , Karabelas ; Garcia , Pinto , Adoua , Ivanschitz ; Diawara , Barral.levante

Player to watch out

Luka Modric (Real Madrid)Real Madrid

Luka Modric is enjoying his breakthrough campaign at Madrid under new coach Ancelotti and expected to decide the tempo of this game also.

Match prediction

Real Madrid 3-1 Levante

Real Madrid is the most in-form team across Europe at the moment and despite their current form, Levante are not expected to give them any trouble for a big win.