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Copa del Rey

  • December 22, 2010
  • • 21:00
  • • Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
  • Referee: Javier Turienzo Álvarez
  • • Attendance: 60000
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Copa Del Rey Preview: Real Madrid – Levante

Copa Del Rey Preview: Real Madrid – Levante

Los Blancos had a weekend scare, but they’ll be aiming to be back to their best for the visit of los Granotes...

Spirited

Real Madrid showed immense character to battle to a 1-0 victory against Sevilla on Sunday to keep pace with Primera Division leaders Barcelona, but their challenge now is to overcome Levante in the Copa del Rey, a trophy that has eluded the capital side for almost 20 years.

Coach Jose Mourinho is nothing if not a superb competitor and the Portuguese has already sent out a signal of intent to end los Merengues’ drought in Spain’s premier cup competition. Against Murcia in the previous round, virtually a full strength side was deployed by the Bernabeu side. The players failed to respond in the opening fixture, held 0-0, but they showed their true face at home, romping to an easy 5-1 success.

Competitive spirit was etched in the manner of their victory over Sevilla at the weekend. By rights los Blancos should have lost. They were reduced to 10 men and los Nervionenses had several good chances to strike, but Madrid came through 1-0 in the end thanks to Angel di Maria.

Mourinho was not impressed, however. It wasn’t his players who were the target of his ire, rather the matchday officials, who he claimed made 13 grave errors over the course of the fixture. Outspoken and brash, the coach also has supreme confidence, and it’s clear that this is something that is beginning to rub off on his side.

Lesser teams might have folded in the wake of their Clasico defeat, but the Bernabeu club continue to plod on with win following win. ‘Mou’ will be aiming for more of the same on Wednesday.

Come Out Alive

Levante’s reintroduction into top flight football has been relatively successful so far. The Valencia-based club lie outside of the relegation zone at Christmas, and though they are by no means out of the woods, Luis Garcia’s side can be broadly pleased with what they’ve achieved to date. The Primera Division will be their main focus, and anything they can achieve in the Copa del Rey will simply be a bonus.

At the weekend, los Granotes showed that they can still be uncertain when faced with top level opposition, going down 2-1 against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. Though they controlled possession for long spells, the hosts failed to turn this superiority into effective shots on goal, registering only through Felipe Caicedo.

The relative minnows have spent time joking prior to Wednesday’s match about Jose Mourinho’s referee jibes, with Xisco Munoz arguing that los Granotes could write “an encyclopaedia” of poor decisions given against them on a game-by-game basis.

Luis Garcia, meanwhile, is simply aiming to keep things tight in the first game, giving his side a chance in the return leg. “We have to come out alive and have options in the second leg,” he told Marca. “This is a great time and we can take advantage to make history.”

It would certainly be a sensation if Levante were to overcome Real Madrid over two legs, and they will have to be perfectly focussed for the first clash at the Bernabeu.


TEAM NEWS

Real Madrid

Kaka, Fernando Gago, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Canales, Sami Khedira and Jerzy Dudek are all out with a variety of injury concerns.

Cristiano Ronaldo may sit out with acute tonsillitis, though he has been named in Jose Mourinho’s panel. Marcelo and Xabi Alonso are back after bans.

Levante

Felipe Caicedo was somewhat doubtful earlier this week, but he's been named in the squad. Goalkeeper Manuel Reina is missing though.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Iker CasillasGoalkeeper
6Lassana DiarraMidfielder
3PepeDefender
33Raúl Albiol Defender
12MarceloDefender
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
25Esteban GraneroMidfielder
22Ángel Di MaríaMidfielder
11Mesut ÖzilMidfielder
7C. RonaldoStriker
9Karim BenzemaStriker
1AdànGoalkeeper
6David MateosDefender
14Ezequiel GarayDefender
19Mahamadou DiarraMidfielder
12Pedro LeónMidfielder
-JuanfranStriker
21MorataStriker
-Gustavo MunúaGoalkeeper
2CerraDefender
5RobustéDefender
18BallesterosDefender
-Asier Del HornoDefender
6PallardóMidfielder
-SergioMidfielder
-Xavi TorresMidfielder
-XiscoMidfielder
8JuanluMidfielder
9Felipe CaicedoStriker
7NanoDefender
-Javi VentaDefender
12Juan García GarcíaDefender
23ValdoMidfielder
-LarreaMidfielder
11Rafa JordáStriker
-Rubén SuárezMidfielder
8StuaniStriker
-Xisco NadalStriker
Players to Watch
Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 14
Games Goals YC RC
7 0 1 0
After missing out at the weekend, Xabi Alonso will be chomping at the bit to be involved on Wednesday night. A player who has the capability to dictate a game from a deep position in the midfield, Madrid will look to the World Cup winner to unlock their opponents.
Felipe Caicedo
Felipe Caicedo
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Having been passed fit to play, Felipe Caicedo will be the main threat to the Real Madrid defence. The 22-year-old Ecuadorian forward has been in excellent form lately, scoring five goals in as many matches. Los Blancos would do well to police him closely.
Prediction
Real Madrid have suffered Copa del Rey upsets previously, but this isn’t a match they will expect to stumble in. Jose Mourinho will deploy a strong side, and they will be good enough to give los Blancos a comfortable lead going into the second leg.

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Editor's Prediction

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