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|To Win and Total Goals||Odds|
|Real Madrid and Over 2.5||+125
|Real Madrid and Under 2.5||+340
Real Madrid scored four goals last time out and should have little trouble finding the net a few times here.
Back Carlo Ancelotti’s side to beat Levante in a game featuring more than 2.5 goals.
|Levante vs Real Madrid Information|
|Teams||Levante vs Real Madrid|
|Location||Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, Valencia, Spain|
|Time||Sunday, 22 August 2021, 4.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN|
By their usual standards this has been a remarkably quiet summer at Real Madrid. A club that has been renowned for its ‘galactico’ transfer policy throughout the 21st century has not spent a single euro on new signings with less than two weeks of the window remaining. David Alaba has arrived at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on a free transfer following the expiration of his Bayern Munich contract, but he is the only new face through the door.
Even the appointment of Zinedine Zidane’s replacement as manager brought a returning figure to the club, as Carlo Ancelotti was installed in the dugout for his second spell in charge of the Spanish giants. There has still been plenty of speculation about big-money moves, with Kylian Mbappe a target and Cristiano Ronaldo linked with a sensational return to Madrid. But Ancelotti’s starting XI last weekend showed that the old guard will be required to do the business again this season.
Sergio Ramos has departed for Paris Saint-Germain, but Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho were all present at kick-off against Alaves last weekend. Isco and Marco Asensio came off the bench, Toni Kroos will be heavily involved once he is fit again, and there was even space in the line-up for Gareth Bale, who has returned following a frustrating season-long loan at Tottenham Hotspur.
Madrid had little trouble swatting Alaves aside, even if they did struggle to get going in the first half. A 4-1 victory showed that they have the individual quality to beat most teams in this division on any given day. But while Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo could play prominent roles this season and inject a little vim and vitality to this team, the concern for Madrid fans is whether this core of players has enough left in them to win the title and compete in the Champions League.
Levante fell away horribly at the end of last season. They were eighth in the table in late February having just beaten Atletico Madrid, who went on to be crowned champions, away from home. That came just a few weeks after a 2-1 win against Real Madrid, a match which was also held in the capital. European soccer was within their sights.
But that was as good as it got for Levante. They won only two of their last 14 fixtures, and none of their last eight. They had already amassed enough points to be safe from relegation, but it was nevertheless a hugely disappointing way to end what was shaping up to be an excellent campaign.
Granada had the worst defensive record in La Liga last season, despite finishing ninth. Cadiz were second in that particular table, and Levante were joint-third after conceding 57 goals. A team once renowned for being solid and tough to play against had become shaky at the back. Tightening things up will be high up Paco Lopez’s list of priorities this season, with the board having kept faith with the 53-year-old manager despite the late-season collapse.
Levante began this campaign with a 1-1 draw at Cadiz, but they will not have earmarked Sunday’s game as a particularly important one. Anything Lopez’s side can take from meetings with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona must be seen as a bonus, although it is worth pointing out they were only defeated twice in their six meetings with the big three last term.
The concerns over a lack of freshness in this Madrid team are valid, but it is important not to go overboard. As mentioned above, an aging side that continues to rely heavily on the likes of Benzema and Modric is nevertheless one of the strongest in La Liga. Modric was the star of the show against Alaves last time out, dictating play in the center of the park as if he was 25 rather than 35. Benzema too has shown no signs of slowing down in recent seasons, despite the fact he turns 34 in December.
It can be hard to know which version of Levante will turn up on any given day. Lopez’s side showed last term that they are a match for anyone when things go well, but they also slumped to some heavy defeats.
This might not be a thrashing but Madrid should ultimately have too much for Levante, as they did despite a slow start against Alaves last time out. Vinicius Junior is pushing for a start after his excellent cameo on matchday one, and he should bring some dynamism and speed to the Madrid frontline. Back an away win and over 2.5 goals here.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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