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Madrid risk paying price for not replacing Morata

5:16 PM GMT+4 09/09/2017
Gareth Bale Real Madrid 2017
Zinedine Zidane's side could only draw at home for the second league game in a row and their decision not to bring in a striker is looking costly

Many fans had seen enough at the Santiago Bernabeu. With time ticking away and Real Madrid level at 1-1 with Levante, a large number of supporters left their seats and headed for the exits. They expected better than this.

Levante president Quico Catalan admitted before this match that the difference between the two teams was "abysmal". The Valencia-based side won promotion to return to La Liga in the summer and theirs is one of the lowest budgets in the Primera Division. Madrid, meanwhile, are the world's richest club and boast the strongest squad in Europe.

Real 13/2 to beat APOEL 2-0

However, if there is one weakness in that squad, it is the lack of a centre-forward to provide back-up to Karim Benzema. Last season, that role was filled by Alvaro Morata and the Spain striker proved particularly useful from the bench, scoring several important winners and ending the campaign with 20 goals from his 43 appearances.

But Morata was sold to Chelsea in the summer and no new striker was bought to replace him. Now, just three league games into the new season, it looks like Madrid may be made to pay the price for that decision.

After a convincing 3-0 win at Deportivo La Coruna on the opening day, Madrid could only draw 2-2 with Valencia in their first fixture at home in the Primera Division, when Benzema missed four fantastic chances, and the 1-1 tie against Levante will be a huge disappointment for coach Zinedine Zidane.

Benzema limped off injured with a muscle problem in the first half and the injury to the France forward comes at a bad time with five more matches ahead in the month of September. And with youngster Borja Mayoral left out of the squad altogether, there was no natural replacement on the bench.

Gareth Bale came on, without even warming up, and the Welsh winger had his moments. However, he missed several good chances including a header right at the end that went just the wrong side of the post.

Moans and groans followed from the Bernabeu crowd and there were plenty of whistles when the game finished level, with Marcelo sent off moments before full-time for a petulant kick on Jefferson Lerma that pretty much summed up Madrid's frustrating afternoon.

Against Valencia, Marco Asensio scored two superb strikes. However, Madrid had 29 attempts in that match and scored only two, while many more chances came and went against Levante.

Cristiano Ronaldo is still suspended following his red card and push on the referee in the Clasico clash in the Spanish Supercopa at Camp Nou last month, although the Portuguese can return in the Champions League against APOEL on Wednesday.

Like last season, though, he will be managed carefully by Zidane and will not play in every single league fixture. On top of that, Benzema's poor form and subsequent injury, plus Bale's troubles in front of goal, mean Madrid may pay for failing to bring in another striker over the summer.

Four points dropped in three league games is a bad start for Madrid and on this evidence, Ronaldo cannot come back soon enough. However, another striker to replace Morata would also have been very useful.