Real Madrid are hoping to maintain their winning momentum as they take on Levante at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia on Sunday.

After conceding the La Liga title to Atletico Madrid last term, it is imperative for Real Madrid to come back strong this season. The Spanish giants started the campaign in fine fashion, securing a convincing 4-1 victory over Deportivo Alaves.

On Sunday, they travel to Ciudad de Valencia to face Levante. It is the second of their three consecutive away matches in La Liga, before they finally return to the iconic Santiago Bernabeu, shortly after the international break.

Until then, Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be hoping to maintain a hundred percent winning record to put early pressure on arch-rivals Atletico and Barcelona.

Levante, though, could be a tricky test for Los Blancos, who had stumbled to a 2-1 defeat when these two teams last met each other back in late January. It was a costly defeat for Real Madrid as it allowed Atletico Madrid to remain on top in La Liga title race.

The visitors cannot afford to make the same mistake when they take on the Granotas once again this weekend. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their important matchup in Laliga on Sunday.

Team News & Tactics

Levante

It is not too difficult to predict Levante’s tactics as they predominantly operate with a 4-4-2 that sees two banks of four covering Aitor Fernandez in goal.

There haven’t been too many personnel changes either, with experienced club captain Jose Luis Morales set to spearhead the frontline. The veteran forward will essentially be replacing the injured Roberto Soldado alongside the more technically adept figure of Roger Marti.

The hosts have more quality in midfield, where the highly creative double-pivot of Jose Campana and Gonzalo Melero should be tasked with the responsibility of finding attackers behind the backline.

These two are also quite effective when it comes to penetrating the box with their driving runs forward. Hence, Real Madrid need to be careful if they are to avoid conceding any unnecessary goals against Levante this weekend.

However, the biggest focus for Paco Lopez’s men lies in the defensive unit. Rober Pier and Oscar Duarte should retain their place at the heart of the four-man backline, with additional assistance from the full-backs in Son and Carlos Clerc, as they look to protect Fernandez in between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Fernandez; Son, Pier, Duarte, Clerc; de Frutos, Campana, Melero, Bardhi; Marti, Morales

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Real Madrid

Real Madrid have lost a few creative players this week, with Martin Odegaard joining Arsenal on a permanent deal while Luka Modric has picked up a groin injury. The veteran Croatian will miss this clash, joining Toni Kroos, Dani Carvajal, Dani Ceballos, Marcelo and Ferland Mendy in the list of absentees.

Given the depleting numbers in midfield, Carlo Ancelotti might be forced to start Isco, though the Italian tactician also considers Marco Asensio in that attacking midfield role. In fact, he might just end up taking a gamble on Asensio, who has stagnated as a winger in recent years and might relish the opportunity to operate in a new role.

The Spaniard will largely play alongside Casemiro and Federico Valverde in the three-man midfield setup for Los Blancos. Asensio will operate in the most advanced role, hoping to provide supply for the exciting front trio of Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema.

Benzema is fresh from signing a contract extension at Bernabeu while Ancelotti has put his faith in Bale. The Welshman is still not up to his usual best, but he can make a difference. Real Madrid do have Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo as potential alternatives, should they prefer more dynamism in the final third.

Defensively, the injuries of Marcelo and Mendy has forced new signing David Alaba to operate at left-back. He may continue to do so this weekend, with Lucas Vazquez occupying the opposing flank.

Alaba should understandably remain deep to provide the balance, knowing Vazquez will make marauding runs forward at every given opportunity. It could see the Austrian international oscillate between a centre-back and a full-back role, with Nacho occasionally moving out wide to cover his teammate on the right hand side.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Vazquez, Nacho, Nacho, Militao, Alaba; Valverde, Casemiro, Asensio; Bale, Benzema, Hazard

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Key Stats

  • With Paco Lopez as coach, Levante have won three of their six meetings with Real Madrid in La Liga. Previously, the Granotas had only managed two wins in 24 league games against Los Blancos in the competition.
  • Real Madrid have won just two of their last four away games against Levante in La Liga, after having won nine of their previous 11 away games against the same opposition in the competition.
  • Levante have failed to win any of their last nine games in La Liga, drawing the last two. Their last league win was back in April against Eibar.
  • Real Madrid have beaten Levante the most times of any away side in La Liga history (11 in 15 visits). Furthermore, only Barcelona (40) have scored more away goals against them than Real Madrid (29) in the competition.
  • Real Madrid have not lost any of their last 19 La Liga matches, the best current unbeaten run of any team in the league.

Player to Watch

Gareth Bale

From Real to Atletico for Gareth Bale? (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Time for a revival? (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Gareth Bale’s surprise start against Alaves was quite a nostalgic sight for the Real Madrid fans. The Welshman didn’t disappoint either, providing to be a constant threat for the opposition backline. Although he could never really find the target, his contributions in the final third were important in helping his team dominate.

On Sunday, the former Tottenham forward will have another opportunity to prove his worth. While Bale may not have the vigour he once had, he certainly has the eye for the goal and should be an ideal supporting figure for the likes of Benzema and Hazard in the attacking department.

A strong performance against Levante, therefore, could go a long way in helping him once again gain some prominence in the Real Madrid first-team. He is definitely the one to keep an eye on in this enticing encounter in La Liga this weekend.

Prediction

Levante 1-2 Real Madrid

Levante are not an opposition to be taken lightly by Real Madrid. While not among the strongest team in the league, they certainly know how to remain compact and resilient, which is why they have done well against Los Blancos under the leadership of the current coach.

However, we expect Real Madrid to come out on top in this affair. Despite the absence of key players like Modric, Ancelotti’s men have what it takes to dominate this game, though it won’t be surprising to see them conceding at least one goal on the counter.

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