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La Liga, Real Madrid vs Levante: Match preview

Los Blancos face a final tuneup ahead of the second Clasico of the season.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Levante comes to town in a time when Real Madrid is struggling. Carlo Ancelotti's men qualified for the quarterfinals of the Champions League by the skin of their teeth while having dropped five points in their last two league matches. On the horizon as a Clasico on the road next week against a Barcelona side which seems to be clicking on many fronts.

So is it all gloom and doom? Nope.

Levante sits in 17th place in the league only one point above relegation status (and as someone who deeply dislikes them I hope they get relegated into the ground). They're 17th in the league in terms of goals scored (23) and bottom of the league in terms of goals allowed (49). In the first meeting of the two sides of the season, Madrid came out on top 5-0 thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo brace. Yes, they managed to win three out of their last five matches but this should still be a winnable game for the men in white as they incorporate some returning players.

Two of those guys will be Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos. Modric returned to action midweek against Schalke and Ancelotti's plan is to give him approximately 60 minutes in anticipation of the Barcelona clash while Ramos returns after having missed 43 days of action. In other lineup notes, Toni Kroos should sit this one out and will be joined by Isco on the bench as both are sitting on four yellow cards and risk suspension against Barcelone should they pick up one more. That means we'll be seeing a Modric-Asier Illarramendi-Lucas Silva midfield. The risk of a trio with little time together exists, but if these guys can't beat Levante then Real Madrid doesn't really deserve the league title anyway. The BBC and the preferred defenders, along with Keylor Navas, round out the starting 11.

On Levante's end, expect a 4-4-2 with their regular starting, minus Ivan Lopez, 11 to feature. David Barral paces them with six goals to his name while Casadesus has chipped in with five. However, they're terrible wit the ball as they only manage to keep it a league-worst 41.7 percent of the time (though they're decent on set pieces with a tally of six goals there). Papa Diop has been their best player as he serves as a midfield enforcer while the right side of their attack has been their weapon of choice. Like Schalke, expect Levante to focus on Madrid's left flank and the space that Marcelo and Ronaldo might leave behind them. That being said, this is simply too poor of a defensive side to not allow a couple Madrid goals but with Los Blancos' recent struggles nothing should be taken for granted.

Projected Levante lineup: TBD

Projected Real Madrid lineup: Navas; Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Carvajal; Silva, Illarramendi, Modric; Ronaldo, Bale; Benzema

Projected final score: 3-1 in favor of Real Madrid.

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