It was a wild game as Levante and Real Madrid drew 3-3 on Sunday night, with a quiet weekend of LaLiga action suddenly exploding into life. There is so much to discuss from this match, so here come six talking points in the form of questions and answers.
1. Would the entertainment continue?
Following the Alavés victory last week, the crew on that post-game podcast spoke a lot about fun. The conclusion was that this is going to be a much more entertaining season when it comes to Real Madrid, even if it’s hard to know if results will be better or worse. With Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid were defensively solid and overly cautious, which made for some dull matches. With Ancelotti, we know we’ll have a more open Real Madrid side that will probably score more and concede more. Well, we certainly saw that against Levante. It was a six-goal thriller, packed with greats goals and some comedic defending. Including the final matches of Ancelotti’s previous Real Madrid term and the first two fixtures of this season, it’s now eight matches in a row where both teams have scored when Ancelotti has been the coach. It’s not going to be boring.
2. Would we see Carvajal?
Ancelotti announced ahead of this game that Dani Carvajal was back and ready to go, describing the right-back’s return as “very important”. Given Lucas Vázquez’s complete lack of awareness in Levante’s first goal, it’s clear that Carvajal is needed. Lucas has done well filling in at right-back over the past year, but that was always an emergency solution. If Los Blancos are going to have a successful season then they need Carvajal to play and to play regularly. We saw 25 minutes from him in this game, and 25 good minutes too. Let’s see if Carvajal is fit enough to start away at Real Betis next weekend.
3. How would the midfield look?
To be without both Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos at the same time is a blow, a big blow. How, then, would the midfield look without the Croatian and German? The last time they were both missing was in the 2-0 win over Osasuna in Matchday 34 of last season, when Zidane’s solution was a midfield double pivot of Casemiro and Antonio Blanco, with Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard and Vinícius up ahead behind the striker. Blanco was in Ancelotti’s travelling squad this weekend, but that’s not what the coach opted for. Instead, he went for Fede Valverde and Isco, flanking Casemiro. That’s a midfield that is going to advance the ball with dribbling and it worked well, especially in the first half. Defensively, though, the midfield was often overrun and porous. For example, it was Valverde who failed to track his man for the second Levante goal.
1. Might keeping Vinícius be Real Madrid’s best business of the summer?
By the end of the transfer window, Real Madrid will have completed a lot of transfer market activity, from the changes at centre-back to the Ødegaard departure to the possible arrival of Mbappé. But, their best piece of business might actually be something they didn’t do. Not letting Vinícius leave this summer could actually prove to be a hugely important decision. With the club considering all options, a Vini exit was a possibility earlier in the window. But, the hierarchy and Ancelotti quickly decided that the Brazilian was one of the few names on the not-for-sale list. That’s paying off.
2. Who else can Ancelotti ‘recover’?
Gareth Bale and Isco stood out in this one, the former for his well-taken goal and the latter for his urgent dribbling from midfield. They both had good games for Real Madrid, which is a statement many thought we’d never end up saying again. But, Ancelotti has ‘recovered’ both Bale and Isco, ensuring their motivation is at the right level. With these two players, that hasn’t always been the case. As an excellent man manager, Ancelotti is getting the most out of the talents in his squad, even the ones we may have thought were past it. Can he now recover anyone else? Could he make Mariano Díaz relevant again, perhaps? Or, even if motivation wasn’t their issue, can he squeeze a good season out of the likes of Marco Asensio or Marcelo?
3. Will Jović get a longer run-out?
Ancelotti really likes Luka Jović. You can tell. From the coach’s first few press conferences, it’s clear that the Serbian is part of Ancelotti’s plans as the Italian will frequently bring up and praise Jović, even when he isn’t specifically asked about the striker. He did it again in the post-match press conference this Sunday night, saying: “We have a lot of quality in attack. We have Rodrygo, Bale, Hazard, Vinícius, Karim and Jović, who did very well when he came in. We have to enjoy this quality and give the minutes to whoever deserves them most.” Ancelotti didn’t need to add that extra sprinkling of praise for Jović, but he did because he sees something there. After coming on in the 82nd minute of this game, with Real Madrid in a desperate situation, let’s see if he gets a longer run-out soon.