Levante take on improving Real next

Messi is best player in history – Xavi

Plummeting Levante will face a tough task when they meet an improving Real Madrid outfit in Saturday’s La Liga clash at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia.

La Liga
Date: 3 February 2018
Match Day 22
Kick-off: 19H45 (GMT)
Venue: Estadio Ciudad de Valencia

Referee: Mario Melero
Assistants: Manuel Torre, José Martínez
Fourth official: Pere Barceló

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Levante 21 3 2 16
Real 21 16 2 3

Previous encounter:

Real Madrid 1-1 Levante 09/11/2017 (La Liga)

Real goalscorer: Lucas Vázquez (36′)

Levante scorer: Ivi López (12′)

Players to watch:

The arrival of the experienced Giampaolo Pazzini hands manager Juan Muñiz a potentially valuable goalscoring outlet in attack. The striker has been a prolific scorer in Italy’s top flight over the years for the likes of Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Hellas Verona. With Granotas struggling for goals, he could be a man to watch on Saturday.

For the visitors, in-form Gareth Bale will be eager to extend his recent good touch in front of goal. With the Wales international firing home six goals in his last five outings, his pace and penetration could be key for Madrid. Now that he’s back alongside Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, it could be a tough evening for Leganes’ defence.

Team form and manager quotes:

For the home side, Juan Muñiz painted a rather bleak picture of his struggling team’s chance. The outfit from Valencia has lost four of their last five matches in all competitions and appear to be descending into relegation trouble.

The 49-year-old told Spanish media outlet AS: “With Ronaldo, (Gareth) Bale, (Karim) Benzema or Isco, the crises are different. They are one of the best sides in the world, so losing a match is a crisis for Madrid. But when a machine works well, it goes to Mestalla and wins 4-1.”

With Los Blancos all but out of the title race with a 19-point deficit behind leaders Barcelona, boss Zinedine Zidane wants his team to simply focus on one game at a time and accumulate some positive results.

The French mentor believes that a title challenge is also a possibility, saying: “When it’s time to work, you have to get stuck into it. In my first year, we had three weeks to work and we did very well, we improved a lot. Now we have to do the same – strength, resistance, speed.”

“We remain united in the hard times. I think my players always remain dedicated and driven. I have real faith in my squad and I tell them that, they repay that faith with hard work, fight and knowing this is not the end. You are sitting here acting like LaLiga is done for, but I don’t think that is the case. We will keep plugging away, trying to win those games.”

Team news:

Levante are without Ivan Lopez, Alex Alegria and Raul Fernandez due to injuries, while Jose Campana and Chema Rodríguez are banned. New signings Armando Sadiku and Giampaolo Pazzini could make their debuts.

For Real, Isco and Gareth Bale are both fit and available while Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane are set to make a return.

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