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Copa del Rey

  • January 6, 2011
  • • 21:00
  • • Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, Valencia
  • Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández
  • • Attendance: 12387
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Real Madrid win Aggregate 8 - 2

Copa del Rey Preview: Levante - Real Madrid

Copa del Rey Preview: Levante - Real Madrid

This is a match for Los Blancos' fringe players to prove themselves...

Pride To Salvage

This Copa del Rey last 16 tie was effectively put to rest in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu when Real Madrid pummelled Levante 8-0, courtesy of hat-tricks from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barring a late, late Christmas miracle for Los Granotes, Jose Mourinho's men can all but begin planning for a mouth-watering quarter-final showdown with either Atletico Madrid or Espanyol.

But for Luis Garcia and his Levante men, there's still a matter of salvaging their pride. The Valencian outfit, by their own coach's admission, were no match for Los Blancos in the first leg. However, his troops pulled together after the short Christmas break and produced an astute display against Barcelona at the weekend and almost shocked the unstoppable Catalans before eventually losing 2-1. If they can repeat that performance against a second-string Madrid side and become only the second team this season to defeat Mourinho's Men in White, they can leave the competition with their heads held high.

The only problem is that Levante have other things to worry about. They are currently sitting just one place and two points above the relegation zone, and Luis Garcia will no doubt be asking his players to put their focus solely on La Liga in a bid to fight for survival.

Impress Me


Mourinho's decision to send out his strongest side and go all out to secure a victory in the first leg just before Christmas was fully justified as his star players got the job done without much fuss.

With the tie locked up, the 'Special One' will send out a combination of the club's canteranos and his fringe players from the senior squad to play out the remaining 90 minutes. It's not often that Jose has put his trust on the benchwarmers, but with the big guns like Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Oezil, Angel Di Maria, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas being left back home and Gonzalo Higuain unavailable, the squad players will now simply have to step up, or risk suffering an embarrassing albeit academic defeat.

For youngsters such as Mateos, Juan Carlos, Juanfran and Morata, this could be their one and only chance to play a significant amount of minutes in the first team, and show Mourinho as well as the club that they warrant a permanent promotion to the senior side next season. For others such as Sergio Canales, Pedro Leon, Lassana Diarra and Fernando Gago, this could be a match where they impress or head for the transfer list either in the current January trade period, or the summer window.

TEAM NEWS

Levante


Felipe Caicedo, Javi Venta, Nano and Gustavo Munua were all missing in Monday's training session and are three looks set to miss the game with various injuries. Vicente Iborra has resumed training after being sidelined since pre-season and he could make his comeback.

Real Madrid

Mourinho has confirmed that Gago will start the match and captain the team after recovering from a knee ligament injury he sustained in pre-season. Kaka is unlikely to start, but should be given more playing time having featured for 15 minutes at the weekend after returning from his own long-term injury. Gonzalo Higuain is out for at least two months after undergoing hernia surgery.

Click here for the full squad list.


Players to watch

C. Stuani

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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The Uruguayan on loan from Reggina scored a cracking goal at the weekend against Barcelona. He would love to build on that momentum and find the net against Madrid to stake his claim as an automatic regular for his side for the remainder of the season.

Canales

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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With Kaka only looking set to feature as a substitute, Canales will be eager to make the most of his playing time as the team's playmaker. With plenty of fierce competition and just one place in the side for that role, young Sergio has to begin impressing after a rocky start to the season riddled with injuries.

Editor's Prediction

Motivation could be an issue for both teams. Levante are desperate to focus their attention on La Liga knowing that this tie is a lost cause, while Madrid could treat this is nothing more than a training match. Despite resting countless key figures, Los Blancos should still have enough quality in the tank to seal a double-digit aggregate victory.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Levante

Real Madrid

Wins
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0
5
Wins

Betting & Predictions

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