MX23RW : Wednesday, June 16 11:02:10| >> :120:60902:60902:
Sep 14, 2019 at 12pm UK at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (Madrid)
Attendance: 60,401
Real Madrid
Benzema (25', 31'), Casemiro (40')
FT(HT: 3-0)
Mayoral (49'), Melero (75')

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Levante - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Levante, including team news and predicted lineups.

Real Madrid will be looking to win in La Liga for the first time since the opening weekend of the campaign when they welcome Levante to the Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon.

Los Blancos have won one and drawn two of their three league matches this season to sit fifth - one spot behind fourth-placed Levante, who have been victorious in two of their three fixtures to collect six points.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates scoring against Villarreal in La Liga on September 1, 2019© Reuters

It is shaping up to be a very, very interesting season for Madrid in the league, and there is no question that the club will be looking to launch some sort of title challenge having struggled in recent campaigns.

Their recent European success has papered over some of the cracks at domestic level, but president Florentino Perez will be expecting a strong season after splashing the cash during the summer transfer window. A move for Paul Pogba did not come to fruition, though, which is perhaps Zinedine Zidane's biggest frustration.

Eden Hazard could return from injury to make his first appearance this weekend, though, and there have been positive signs early on despite Madrid drawing their last two in the league against Real Valladolid and Villarreal.

Los Blancos started the 2019-20 campaign with an impressive 3-1 win at Celta Vigo, before drawing 1-1 at home to Real Valladolid on August 24. Last time out, Gareth Bale - suspended this weekend - scored twice in what proved to be a 2-2 draw at the home of Villarreal.

Zidane's side sit fifth in La Liga heading into Week Four - one point above the champions Barcelona but four points off leaders Atletico Madrid, who are the only team in Spain's top flight to make a perfect start.

It is a fascinating period of the season for Madrid considering that they will follow this weekend's clash against Levante with a trip to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday night, before visiting Sevilla for an important league match on September 22.

Zidane's squad is certainly looking a lot healthier at the moment as the likes of Hazard, James Rodriguez and Brahim Diaz have all returned to full training following injury. Isco is also not too far away, meanwhile, and the Madrid boss will need a strong squad at his disposal in the coming weeks.

The home side will certainly enter this weekend's clash as the favourites to triumph - Levante won 2-1 at the Bernabeu in the corresponding game last season, though, and as mentioned, Paco Lopez's side have made an impressive start to the 2019-20 campaign.

Recent form: WDD


Levante's Ruben Rochina tangles with Barcelona's Juan Miranda during their Copa del Rey clash on January 10, 2019.© Reuters

Promoted back to Spain's top flight as Segunda winners in 2016-17, Levante have finished 15th in their last two La Liga campaigns. The Frogs were seven points clear of the relegation zone last season, although only 20th-placed Rayo Vallecano (70) conceded more league goals (66).

There was a big turnaround in terms of players over the summer, with the likes of Ruben Vezo, Sergio Leon, Gonzalo Melero and Nemanja Radoja arriving, while Ruben Garcia, Chema and Pedro Lopez moved on.

Levante started their campaign with a 1-0 loss at Alaves on August 18 but have beaten Villarreal and Valladolid in their last two - teams that have already taken points off Madrid this term, which will give the visitors confidence.

Los Blancos recorded a 2-1 victory when the pair last locked horns in Valencia back in February. However, as mentioned, Levante ran out 2-1 winners at the Bernabeu in the corresponding game last season.

The Frogs have actually not lost away to Madrid in Spain's top flight since October 2015, having also picked up a 1-1 draw back in September 2017. Los Blancos have struggled in the recent meetings between the two teams, which makes for a potentially tight clash on Saturday afternoon.

In terms of what is ahead for Levante, they will welcome Eibar and travel to Real Betis in their next two before ending the month at home to Osasuna. It might well be another tough campaign in the bottom half of the table, but it is worth remembering that the Valencia-based club finished sixth in La Liga in 2011-12.

While Madrid have had a lot of players away on international duty in September, Levante's squad have had time to rest and indeed work on a number of things ahead of Saturday's contest. It is a tough ask to expect the visitors to triumph this weekend, but a point at the Bernabeu would represent another big step forward.

Recent form: LWW

Team News

Eden Hazard in action for Real Madrid on July 30, 2019© Reuters

Madrid's squad is looking a lot healthier at the moment, and there is expected to be a debut for Hazard this weekend with the Belgium international rejoining the main group for training this week.

A thigh injury has kept the attacker out thus far, but he should be fit to play some part for the Spanish giants - even if that means appearing from the bench.

As mentioned, James is also back from injury to boost Zidane's side, who will be without Bale after his red card in the latter stages of the clash with Villarreal last time out.

Luka Jovic also trained on Wednesday despite picking up an injury while representing Serbia during the international break, while Brahim Diaz has also been involved this week as he battles back to fitness.

The match will come too soon for Isco and Rodrygo Goes, though, while Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee following a knee operation.

Luka Modric should return to the middle of the park after starting on the bench against Villarreal, while Marcelo could replace Ferland Mendy at left-back.

Rober Pier and Coke remain on the sidelines for Levante, who are expected to select on-loan Borja Mayoral in the final third despite the Spaniard being contracted to Madrid.

Head coach Paco Lopez could decide to select the same team that started the win over Valladolid before the international break, with Ruben Rochina playing in a wide position.

Mayoral's involvement is perhaps the only main talking point in terms of team selection, and Leon will be on standby for a spot alongside Roger Marti if the Madrid forward is left out.

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Hazard, Benzema, Lucas

Levante possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Miramon, Vezo, Postigo, Clerc; Morales, Gomez, Vukcevic, Rochina; Marti, Mayoral

Head To Head

Madrid have won 16 of 23 meetings between the two teams in all competitions, with Levante posting just four victories during that run of matches.

That said, as mentioned, Levante recorded a 2-1 victory in the corresponding match last season. Marcelo halved the deficit late on, but goals from Jose Luis Morales and Marti proved enough for the visitors to triumph.

A pair of penalties from Karim Benzema and Bale saw Madrid run out 2-1 winners when they visited Levante back in February.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Real Madrid 2-0 Levante

Levante are certainly capable of making it a very tough afternoon for Madrid. Zidane's side will be keen to return to winning ways following back-to-back draws, though, and we fancy the capital giants to triumph.

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Marco Asensio in action for Real Madrid on September 29, 2018
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