Santiago Bernabeu, Spain
17th October, 2015; 14: 00 GMT
Having drawn both their last two La Liga fixtures, Real Madrid will be keen to earn three points against Levante as they prepare for a mid-week visit to Paris in a much anticipated Champions League clash.
Team News, Tactics, Line-ups
Coming at the back of two consecutive draws, Rafael Benitez finds himself in a tough spot at Real Madrid as he faces a series of crucial injuries that threaten to derail his campaign. While the Spaniard was already missing the likes of James Rodriguez, Sergio Ramos and Pepe, Luka Modrica s injury coupled with that of Karim Benzema, has forced Benitez to call up Philipp Lienhart, Borja Mayoral and Marcos Llorente for the game against Levante.
With Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Dani Carvajal and Arbeloa missing from action, Marcelo and Raphael Varane will be tasked with the responsibility to keep Levante in check at Santiago Bernabeu. Nacho is expected to partner the Frenchman in the middle with Danilo returning from his injury to replace Carvajal in the starting line-up.
Without Modric for the next couple of weeks, it will be interesting to see if Benitez chooses Casemiro ahead of Mateo Kovacic who was brought in from Inter Milan as Modrica s understudy. Gareth Bale returns to the starting line-up following his exploits with the Welsh national team and he will be hoping to replicate his international form with Real Madrid. Karim Benzemaa s injury could push Cristiano Ronaldo in a No 9 role with Isco and Jese Rodriguez operating down the flanks. While Isco has failed to make a strong impact this season despite featuring prominently due to the injuries suffered by the squad, Jese will be aware that he is running out of opportunities at Real Madrid. With Bale operating down the middle in a supporting role, his partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo could prove to be the turning point for Real Madrid who have curiously struggled to score goals this season.
Expected Starting Eleven: Navas (GK); Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Danilo; Kroos, Casemiro, Isco, Bale, Jese; Ronaldo
Sitting on the 18th spot in the La Liga with 6 points from 7 games, Levante are the obvious underdogs as they travel to Santiago Bernabeu to take on a limping Real Madrid. However, Lucas Alcaraz will be aware that this is probably his best opportunity to beat Real Madrid as the Spanish giants suffer from a string of injuries.
Following their 1-0 win over Villarreal, Levante will be banking on Brazilian international Deyverson and Nabil Ghilas to exploit Reala s make-shift defence in a bid to unsettle Beniteza s men. Alcaraz himself faces a couple of crucial injuries as he will be missing the services of Ivan Lopez, Angel Trujillo and Verza.
Ruben is expected to take his place between the posts and is likely to be kept busy by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Tono, Zouhair Feddal, Juanfran and Pedro Lopez are expected to feature in the starting line-up, supported by Victo Camarasa and Jose Mari in the midfield.
Expected Starting Eleven: Ruben (GK); Tono, Feddal, Juanfran, Pedro Lopez; Camarasa, Mari, Morales, Jefferson, Ghilas; Deyverson
- Real Madrid have won their last 7 home matches against Levante in all competitions.
- Real Madrid are undefeated in their last 20 home matches in La Liga.
Player To Watch Out For
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have made headlines following the Welshmana s agenta s controversial comments regarding the Portuguese superstar.
While Benitez seems to have dispelled reports suggesting a rift, all eyes will be on Ronaldo and Bale as the two look to strike up an effective partnership against Levante.
Real Madrid 2-1 Levante
Though Real Madrid are the strong favourites on paper, the international break seems to have taken the sting out of their attack. One can expect an exciting encounter as Levante will look to sit deep and exploit Madrida s mistakes during the span of 90 minutes.
Blast From The Past