Estadi Ciutat de València, Valencia
September 25 2010, 11.30 PM IST
It’s Real Madrid’s fifth game in less than two weeks. Jose Mourinho has time and again been complaining about the fixtures and their timing. But, for the first time in four games, Real have had at least five days to rest as they look to maintain their position as leaders in the Spanish League standings. Levante on the other hand, have had a start you would expect of a typical mid table struggler. These two clash today at the Estadi Ciutat de València.
After making a typical start to the campaign, Levante now face a tough opponent in Real Madrid. The Valencian outfit will know that it’ll take a miracle to beat the capital giants. They have to play the game of their lives and hope Real Madrid’s superstars are terribly out of form – which might give them a chance to create a major upset. However, a draw could also be a huge morale boost if they manage to get it. Levante coach Luis Garcia, admits a desire to beat Madrid, but it looks highly improbable that his wish will be fulfilled by the end of the night.
It’s still week five in the Spanish League, yet Jose Mourinho has not shied away from speaking his way. A couple of days back, “The Special One” criticized Sporting Gijon and their coach for rolling over easily against Barcelona by fielding a weaker side. Although Barca only managed to win that game 1-0, Mourinho felt if Gijon had a stronger side, there was a chance Madrid would now be three points ahead of their arch rivals. Perhaps Mourinho is trying to motivate Barca’s next opponent Athletic Bilbao at San Mames. Whatever the case, Madrid is dependant on themselves and should be looking to continue leading the table by getting a convincing victory against Levante. However one thing that might act as a distraction is a tricky trip to France to face Auxerre on Tuesday.
Probable Starting Lineups
Levante: The Valencia outfit will be looking to lineup their best men to try and get something from the game.
Probable Lineup: Manolo; Robuste-Ballesteros-Del Horno-Nano; Xisco-Xavi Torres-Sergio-Pallardo; Ruben-Jorde.
Real Madrid: Pepe has been suspended as a result of his red card against Espanyol. Mourinho will have to shuffle his backline a little as neither Albiol nor Garay can be the direct replacements for Pepe’s absence because of their injuries. Ramos will partner Carvalho in the middle as Arbeloa will step in to take the right back slot. Khedira should be back to the starting eleven after being rested in the midweek. Xabi, Ronaldo, Ozil, and Higuain will all start. It would be interesting though to see if Mourinho will start with Benzema or with Di Maria. The former has been showing confidence on the pitch and even got a much needed goal against Espanyol. Mourinho has also told that he has confidence in Benzema and that he deserves more time on the pitch. Expect him to send out Benzema and rest Di Maria for the midweek UCL encounter.
Probable Lineup: Casillas; Arbeloa-Ramos-Carvalho-Marcelo; Khedira-Alonso; Ronaldo-Ozil-Benzema; Higuain
Real Madrid: W-W-W-W-D
TheHardTackle’s Player to watch out for
Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)
The Argentine International has had a timid start to the campaign by his standards. He has missed buckets of chances and has so far managed to shake the back of the net only thrice in five games. But if there’s one person who has time and again proved that he can bounce back from adversity, it’s Higuain. Benzema is fast approaching to make a case for the striker’s spot. So expect Higuain to shake himself out of the comfort zone and bounce back in style.
Levante 0-3 Real Madrid
Real Madrid has struggled to find the back of the net consistently, so far this season. The 3-0 scoreline midweek against Espanyol was a little flattering. But this might exactly be the kind of game the Merengues want to start showing fluidity and ruthlessness in front of the goal. Real Madrid haven’t lost a single game at Levante’s home. Out of the five games played, Real won all of them scoring two goals per matches and conceding just a single goal in the process. Expect plenty of goals and a solid and disciplined performance in defence from the Galacticos.
TheHardTackle’s Blast From The Past