Real Madrid return to action in La Liga on Saturday as they welcome Levante to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Los Blancos are yet to be defeated in their opening three matches, but they have drawn two of those against Real Valladolid and Villarreal. Formerly outcast Gareth Bale rescued his side in their last match against the latter, as he bagged a brace before being sent-off in the final minute.
Levante, in contrast, have made a strong start to the new season, picking up six points from their first three matches. Paco Lopez's have won their last two games and will come into this one with great confidence.
Here's 90min's preview of the game.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Saturday 14 September|
|What Time is Kick Off?||12:00 (BST)|
|Where is it Played?||Santiago Bernabeu|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||FuboTV - Free Trial (US)|
|Referee?||Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea|
Where to Buy Tickets
Tickets for the game are, as ever, available on both teams' official club websites, though membership is required in order to purchase. In terms of resale, both teams provide the option to make season tickets available for others to use, if a supporter is unable to attend the game themselves.
Luka Jovic is a doubt for Real Madrid for the match, after he picked up a knock on international duty. The Serbian FA said that he will not feature for his country in their match against Luxembourg on Tuesday, casting doubt over his availability for Los Blancos' match on Saturday. They did also state that it was a 'minor' injury and they are being cautious.
However, four players are said to have overcome their respective injuries and are set to be available for selection against Levante.
Youngster Rodrygo Goes (hamstring), James Rodriguez, Brahim Diaz (both muscular) and Eden Hazard (thigh) have all been working hard and should all be in contention. This comes as a major boost considering the amount of injuries that were mounting, with Isco and Marco Asensio still sidelined, while Bale will miss the game through suspension.
Borja Mayoral will be unable play as he is currently on-loan from his parent club Real Madrid, meaning experienced forward Sergio Leon will most likely come into the side. Aside from that, Levante have a fairly clean bill of health and Paco Lopez will have the chance to field his strongest possible side.
|Real Madrid||Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Hazard, Benzema, Lucas V.|
|Levante||Fernández; Miramón, Rubén Vezo, Postigo, Clerc; Vukcevic, Campaña, Rochina, Morales; Sergio Leon, Roger|
Head to Head Record
The two sides have faced off against each other on 23 occasions, with Real Madrid, unsurprisingly, holding the superior record.
The Spanish giants have won 16 tussles, compared to Levante's four. The two teams have also played out a draw on three occasions.
The last meeting between the two saw a disjointed Los Blancos side edge past Levante by two goals to one back in February. Penalties from Karim Benzema and Bale on that occasion were enough to help see them over the line, despite Roger netting for the home side.
Levante currently sit fourth in La Liga, ahead of Real Madrid in fifth. Zidane's men started the season impressively, but have since fallen to two tame draws against Valladolid and Villarreal. Bale was the man to rescue Madrid in their last match, picking up two goals before being sent-off.
The performances have been fairly lacklustre and will need to improve if they wish to have a successful season, but the return of some key figures will certainly aid the side.
Lopez's men, on the other hand, have made a strong start to the new season, picking up six points from three matches. Following an opening day defeat against Alaves, the team has gone on to put in two impressive displays to claim victories against Real Valladolid and Villarreal - neither of whom Real could beat.
Here's how both sides have performed in their last five matches.
|Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid (1/9)||Levante 2-0 Real Valladolid (31/8)|
|Real Madrid 1-1 Real Valladolid (24/8)||Levante 2-1 Villarreal (23/8)|
|Celta Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid (17/8)||Alaves 1-0 Levante (18/8)|
|Roma 2-2 Real Madrid (5-4 on Pens) (11/8)||Levante 2-2 Atletico Madrid (18/5)|
|RB Salzburg 0-1 Real Madrid (7/8)||Girona 1-2 Levante (12/5)|
Zidane will be demanding more from his players and will be hoping his side can turn over a new leaf as the international break draws to a close.
The return of Hazard and Rodriguez will benefit Madrid greatly, and there will be more of an expectancy to put in an accomplished performance.
Levante have started the season strongly and currently sit higher than Real in the table, but Los Blancos will be eager to claim all three points here.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Levante