Real Madrid will be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the La Liga table when they face off against Levante on Saturday night.

Real Madrid will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways and strengthen their lead atop the La Liga standings when they lock horns with Levante at Ciutat de Valencia in matchweek 25 on Saturday.

Real Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw last time out by Celta Vigo, allowing second-placed Barcelona to reduce the gap at the top to just one point. With the Catalans scheduled to play Eibar earlier on Saturday, Zinedine Zidane’s men could slip down a place in the table by the time their game kicks off. They will be hoping to put behind last week’s disappointment and get back on track.

Levante, on the other hand, find themselves in the thirteenth place in the standings, with 29 points from 24 matches – eight points above the drop zone. Paco Lopez’s men haven’t been in the best of form though, winning just one of their last six games, with their most recent fixture ending in a 2-1 defeat to Villarreal. The Granotas will be aiming to get at least a point against the table-toppers.

The reverse fixture saw Real Madrid eke out a 3-2 win against Levante with Karim Benzema grabbing a double while Casemiro was also on the scoresheet. And ahead of their latest meeting at Ciutat de Valencia this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Levante

Levante have a number of injury concerns heading into the game against Real Madrid. The hosts will be without the services of Hernani, Ruben Rochina, Rober Pier and Ivan Lopez, while Nemanja Radoja and Gonzalo Melero are also doubts for the clash.

Manager Paco Lopez will set his team up in a 4-4-2 formation with Aitor Fernandez lining up in goal. Jorge Miramon is a surefire starter at right-back, but there could be a change at left-back with Tono replacing Carlos Clerc. Ruben Vezo should pair up with Sergio Postigo at the heart of the Levante backline.

Nikola Vukcevic will anchor the midfield for the hosts and look to disrupt Real Madrid’s flow. Partnering him on the night ought to be Jose Campana, who will provide the legs. Occupying the flanks for Lopez’s side against Real Madrid should be Enis Bardhi and captain and striker Jose Luis Morales, given the injury problems that Levante have on their hands.

Upfront, leading goalscorer Roger Marti is a guaranteed starter and will be partnered by Real Madrid loanee Borja Mayoral, who scored in the last game against Villarreal.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Fernandez; Miramon, Postigo, Vezo, Tono; Bardhi, Vukcevic, Campana, Morales; Marti, Mayoral

Real Madrid

Gareth Bale and Luka Jovic did not train this week due to gastrointestinal discomfort and have been omitted from the 19-man squad announced by Zinedine Zidane. Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz remain sidelined for Real Madrid while Rodrygo Goes has once again been left out for the fourth game in a row.

There is no looking past the reliable figure of Thibaut Courtois in goal for Real Madrid, while Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos are the undisputed first-choice centre-back pairing. At right-back, Dani Carvajal should feature once again, but Marcelo could be set to make way for Ferland Mendy on the left.

Casemiro is a certainty to feature at the base of the three-man midfield, but Federico Valverde could be given a breather here by Zidane, with the Champions League clash against Manchester City looming. Luka Modric ought to be the man to replace the Uruguayan, while Toni Kroos should fill the final slot in the middle of the park.

Karim Benzema is the obvious choice to spearhead the Real Madrid attack while Eden Hazard should get the nod on the left, after making his comeback from injury in the last game. Isco, Vinicius Junior and Lucas Vazquez will vie for the spot on the right-wing, with the former Malaga playmaker likely to get the nod.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco, Benzema, Hazard

Key Stats

  • Under Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid are winless in their last five trips to Valencian Community in La Liga (D4 L1), after winning three of the last four with the Frenchman (L1).
  • Levante have won just one of their last 14 La Liga games against Real Madrid (D2 L11), with that win coming away from home (2-1 in October 2018). At home, Levante have played 13 matches against Real Madrid in La Liga, winning just once (D2 L10).
  • Real Madrid have drawn eight of their 24 La Liga games this season, their second most at this stage in a single top-flight campaign in the 21st century (nine in 2002-03).
  • Levante’s Roger Marti (nine points with 10 goals) and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (nine with 13) are two of three players to win the most points with their goals in LaLiga this season, alongside Valencia’s Maxi Gomez (nine and nine).
  • Real Madrid playmaker Isco has scored five goals against Levante in La Liga, more than against any other opponent in the competition, also assisting twice against them.

Player to Watch

Eden Hazard

Back in action and raring to go (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Back in action and raring to go (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Having been sidelined since November last year, the Belgian wing-wizard made his long-awaited return last weekend against Celta Vigo and was easily one of Real Madrid’s best player on the day, alongside Toni Kroos. Hazard looked dangerous each time he was on the ball, causing problems to the defenders with his sharp running and movement.

Moreover, his link-up play with Karim Benzema was a major positive for Real Madrid. With the season fast approaching the business end, Hazard will be aiming to build on his performance from the last game and make vital contributions moving forward to help Real Madrid lift the La Liga title in his debut campaign.

Prediction

Levante 0-2  Real Madrid

Levante have been in a poor run of form, losing five of their last six La Liga matches. And while they will be playing on their home turf, their record against Real Madrid does not make for a pretty reading. The league leaders will be extra driven after the 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo as they look to hold on to the pole position in the title race.

Prior to the last weekend’s clash, Real Madrid had conceded just two goals in their previous seven La Liga encounters, managing to keep clean sheets against the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao during that run. And hence, they should be able to secure a shut-out against Levante, on their way to a comfortable 2-0 win on Saturday.

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