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Levante Vs. Real Madrid, La Liga 2012: Match Preview And Thread

Can Cristiano Ronaldo play as a pure striker? Against Levante, Real Madrid will need his Portuguese star to excel at that position, even though he's more comfortable on the left wing. Benzema and Higuaín's injuries will mean José Callejón will get the start after some brilliant 45 minutes against Borussia Dortmund.

Jasper Juinen

It's surely not the best time for Real Madrid to play against a tough Levante in the Ciutat de Valencia. It's been raining all morning in the Mediterranean city, so Levante will probably take even more benefit of playing at home. Jose Mourinho has not managed to get a single win in Levante's stadium during his two seasons with Real Madrid, but he and his players will face a must-win match against Ballesteros, Martins and the rest of Levante's roster if Barcelona beats Joaquín Caparrós' Mallorca.

Onto the good news. Fábio Coentrao is back on Real Madrid's list, even though Mourinho said he will remain doubtful until the very last moment. If Coentrao is able to play, Sergio Ramos will finally move away from Real Madrid's right back, a place he should not visit again unless the team is facing a Segunda B squad. Ramos' performances at his former spot have been atrocious. It seemed as if he had forgotten how to play there. Other times, it looked as if he though Real Madrid was playing against kindergarten.

With Arbeloa on his natural position, Real Madrid not only defends but also attacks better. Ramos' place in the center of the defense allows his team to draw better passing lines, since neither Varane nor Pepe are brilliant with passes. It'll be good to see a left-footed in Real Madrid's left wing once again. The team lacked a lot of space in the middle of the pitch just after Coentrao and Marcelo went down. Coentrao will allow Alonso and Modric to have more room to operate and dictate the tempo of the match.

Mourinho confirmed Mesut Özil, Ángel Di María, Callejón and Cristiano Ronaldo will start. That means Essien and Modric will fight for the starting spot besides Xabi Alonso. The Croatian playmaker is a perfect fit for this kind of games against teams that try to defend tight and then counterattack, but Essien's brilliant match against Dortmund could earn him the spot.

One way or another, it won't be an easy game for Madrid, that's for sure. Levante always plays smart with time, and if they manage to score, it will be very hard for Mourinho's team to overcome the deficit. Today's the perfect day to see if Real Madrid has what it takes to fight for La Liga.

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