Los Blancos will try and shut the gap on Barca further when they meet los Granotes...
Hope springs eternal for Real Madrid, who will have been very encouraged by the tribulations of Barcelona over the course of the last week, which have allowed los Blancos to regain a fingerhold in the race for the Spanish crown.
After la Blaugrana had erred against Sporting de Gijon, it was of vital importance that los Blancos took full advantage, and they did just that by edging a fading Espanyol side 1-0 at the Cornella-El Prat. Iker Casillas may have been dismissed seconds after the opening whistle, but the loss of the goalkeeper didn’t equate to a loss of points as a goal from Marcelo proved enough for Jose Mourinho’s men.
There was to be no Champions League action last midweek for Madrid, but that does mean they’ll have to prepare themselves for a Tuesday meeting with Olympique Lyonnais; a side who have historically caused los Blancos more problems than any other.
While Mourinho will view the pursuit of the club’s illusive 10th Champions League crown as being of vital importance, the league will certainly not be overlooked by the Portuguese boss, who is noted for his craving of every success possible.
Over the course of the last seven days, some momentum has swung back in favour of the capital side, and they must take advantage of it while Barca are rocking.
On A Roll Again
Levante are a side who have played in fits and starts all season, and that trend has continued over the course of recent weeks. After a woeful run of five successive losses, Luis Garcia’s unit have since rediscovered their winning touch and have pieced together a very useful run of three successive wins, which have pulled them away from the drop zone.
Home successes against Getafe and Almeria were rather impressive, but it’s the 1-0 success away to Villarreal that was the real headline-grabber. It would take an even more remarkable achievement for them to overcome Real Madrid on Saturday evening, particularly after losing 8-0 to the same opponents in the Copa del Rey earlier this season.
“It's league match; it is something else and hopefully the result will not be repeated,” Felipe Caicedo confirmed to Marca. “This time the Madrid will be very different from what we experienced in Copa. We have to go out with the rage from the 8-0 game we will not forget.”
While los Granotes have been capable of stringing a number of positive results together from out of the blue, they’ve also been capable of the great defensive collapse, as captured most spectacularly by their last visit to the Bernabeu. Luis Garcia’s side will have to be mentally as well as physically ready if they’re to gain some kind of respectability on this occasion.
Iker Casillas’ suspension has been upheld by the league’s disciplinary committee, so third choice goalkeeper Adan will start due to the ongoing injury problems of Jerzy Dudek. Gonzalo Higuain is los Blancos’ other main concern.
Sergio Ramos was omitted from the starting XI last weekend amid rumours of a fall-out with Jose Mourinho.
The Valencia side have a number of selection problems heading into the weekend’s fixture. Miguel Pallardo, Sergio Gonzalez and Gorka Larrea are all injured, and experienced defender Javi Venta is suspended.