After another tough Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund in midweek, Real Madrid face a real challenge to maintain the pressure on Barcelona as they travel to face Levante.
Their opponents on Sunday are still unbeaten at home this campaign, while Real have already suffered two defeats on their travels.
“The Levante field is difficult for everyone, not just Real Madrid,” said Real manager Jose Mourinho, according to the club’s official website. “If it were an easy stadium for everyone and difficult for us, that would be one thing, but they haven’t lost for some time now and I don’t know if you all remember what the last game they lost was like.
“It is a difficult stadium and a complicated team. They have their style and it is bringing them results, but my team is committed, ambitious, and wants to win and to improve.”
While Levante will not be easy opponents, Los Blancos will also be hamstrung by several injuries. Both of the club’s recognized front men, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain are ruled out through injury, meaning that Cristiano Ronaldo will begin in a central striking role.
Mourinho has also revealed that a late decision will be made on the fitness of full-backs Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Coentrao. Sami Khedira and Marcelo are still out.
Levante come into the match in good form, having won three of their last four La Liga contests and conceding just one goal in the process. After qualifying for the Europa League with a sixth place league finish last season, Juan Ignacio Martinez’s side look on their way to reproducing that success as they currently sit an impressive fifth.
Martinez will be missing midfielder Dariusz Duka, but Moroccan forward Nabil El Zhar should return to the lineup.
D: Lopez, Ballesteros, Navarro, Juanfran
M: Diop, Ibora
Rios, Barkero, Juanlu
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Arbeloa
M: Essien, Alonso
Di Maria, Ozil, Callejon
Prediction: Levante have firmly established a reputation as a tough side to play against, particularly at home. While Levante were involved in Europe League action on Thursday evening, with Martinez having rotated his side, it is Real that are likely to come into the match with a greater hangover from their midweek action.
As a result, Real may well have to accept dropping more points in pursuit of Barcelona.
Levante 1-1 Real Madrid
Where to watch: The La Liga contest will kick-off from the Ciudad de Valencia at 3.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.