Real Madrid visit today one of the stadiums that prevent them from getting their 32nd Liga title last year. The Ciudad de Valencia stadium is always a difficult one to play in because of the turf and the philosophy of the team.
I am not criticizing, they can play anyway they want, but I am just noting that Real Madrid is probably going to have a bad time scoring their first goal. If we can manage to do that soon, it will be a comfortable game. Cristiano and Kaká are on the list, so I definitely think the Portuguese is starting
As a Valencia citizen I can say I know pretty well this city's teams. Let's face it, Levante is not the same team than last year's. They have lost Luís García Plaza -one of the most young and talented Spanish coaches- and Ecuadorian striker Felipe Caicedo. The 23- year old is a Drogba-like striker who scored 13 goals for his team last season. He headed to Lokomotiv Moscow in a 7.5M€ transfer -certainly under-payed in my opinion- so Levante does not have many high-quality players this year.
Their replacement for Caicedo is Carlos Aranda. He signed this year with Levante after 2 seasons in Osasuna. He always fights hard against the centerbacks but lacks speed. Javier Farinós -former Valencia and Hércules player- moved to another Valencia team after Hércules' relegation to Liga Adelante. Farinós can still organize his team, and he could be a dangerous player, but he is not in Levante's list for the game due to his bad shape.
Levante's centerback Sergio Ballesteros is one of the dirtiest players in la Liga. He has earned the hate from every fan of this league, and you only have to listen to the crowds chanting against him.
I don't feel like Mourinho is thinking about introducing changes in this game, since he confirmed in yesterday's press conference that he is going to keep playing the starters. He believes that the team can maintain the form through all the season, and I have to say I am not so sure about that.
The team was not in a great shape during last January, with players like Özil and Di Maria feeling certainly tired. The season is very long, and maybe Mourinho is wrong, but it's true that we can't give away not one of this kind of games.
Let's hope the team can recover from their recent slump and get a comfortable win. As I said before, it will be key to score in the first half of the game. We need to be patient, but if we don't score soon the team might get anxious -just what they did last year-.
Look for a good game out of Karim Benzema, he usually stands out away from the Bernabeu and against the teams that rely on their defensive system. His combinative game usually stands out more than his ability to score.