Ike Casillas will be back in the Real Madrid squad having fully recovered from a broken thumb, but assistant coach Aitor Karanka has confirmed that Diego Lopez will retain his place in goal for Saturday’s La Liga clash with Levante.
The Spain international, who has not played since January, was controversially left out of the team for several games around the turn of the year amid reports of a personal dispute with manager Jose Mourinho.
Lopez has performed well since being signed following Casillas’s injury and Mourinho looks set to keep faith with the former Sevilla man. Former Madrid director of football Arrigo Sacchi recently waged into the debate by claiming that Mourinho was making the right choice and that Casillas has always been a bad trainer.
“Having him with us is a joy and I don’t have to evaluate what Sacchi said about how he trains,” Karanka said, according to Real Madrid’s official Web site. “He’s important for us, for the team and for everyone. The coaching staff wants the best for the team and he won’t play tomorrow, but you never know what will happen in the future.”
The other controversy brewing around Madrid this week has been over yellow cards picked up by Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso in the closing stages of the side’s 3-0 victory over Galatasaray. The bookings rule them out of what is expected to be a mere formality of a second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal, with some suggesting that it was a deliberate act; something which Madrid have been found guilty of before.
Mourinho denied those claims and said that the suspensions changed his plans and that the duo would now play against Levante.
Madrid drew their last league game at Real Zaragoza and, while there is little to play for in La Liga, they will want to at least maintain their solitary-point advantage over city rivals Atletico Madrid.
Levante finally snapped a dismal run of seven league matches without a win at home to Sevilla last week. But that poor form has seen Juan Ignacio Martinez’s side slip out of contention for a Champions League place, although they still have an outside chance of securing Europa League qualification.
Levante will be missing David Navarro through suspension for the trip to the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Albiol, Marcelo
M: Pepe, Alonso
Callejon, Kaka, Ronaldo
D: Lell, Vyntra, Ballesteros, Juanfran
M: Iborra, Diop
Rios, Michel, Garcia
Prediction: Mourinho is likely to make a number of changes to the side that beat Galatasaray in midweek. They should still have enough to maintain their fine home record against a Levante side that has been poor away from home this season.
Real Madrid 2-0 Levante
Where to watch: The Liga contest will kick-off from the Bernabeu at noon ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.