Early season La Liga action continues as Real Madrid heads to Valencia to take on Levante. Los Blancos dominated in their opener, beating Alaves 4-1. Meanwhile, Levante had three points snatched away at Cadiz as Alfonso Espino’s late goal leveled the scoreline at 1-1.
Levante will have to deal with a potent Real Madrid attack. Golden Boot candidate Karim Benzema got his season off to a great start with a brace vs Alaves. After missing out on the league title by two points last season, Real Madrid and new manager Carlo Ancelotti should be motivated to return to glory.
Game: Levante UD vs Real Madrid
Location: Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Time: Sunday, 4 p.m. ET
Head to Head
Levante and Real Madrid split their meetings last season as both teams won away from home. Real Madrid won 2-0 on goals from Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. In the reverse fixture, Marco Asensio scored minutes after teammate Eder Militao’s red card. However, Levante responded with goals from Jose Luis Morales and Roger Marti and a 10-man Real Madrid fell 2-1.
Levante’s Defensive Woes
Levante allowed 57 goals in La Liga last season, which was tied for third-most in the league. Levante’s offense was good enough to avoid a relegation battle as the Valencia club finished 14th. In the transfer window, Levante signed left back Enric Franquesa but he’s more of a depth signing than an impact starter. Instead, the club’s major signing was veteran striker Roberto Soldado.
Soldado scored nine goals in 29 league matches with Granada last season and should add to a deep attack. Last season, Jose Luis Morales and Roger Marti scored 13 and 12 goals, respectively. Levante has the ability to punch above its weight and snag some upset wins but its defense could once again let it down over the course of the season.
Levante was literally seconds away from a Matchweek 1 win but couldn’t take all three points at Cadiz. Levante will return home to face Real Madrid and was decent at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia last season, losing just five games. Levante also won five games and drew nine there.
Benzema: Best Striker in La Liga?
Benzema made a return to the French national team for the Euros after a six-year absence. The hiatus wasn’t due to his play. Rather, he was accused of blackmailing former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Benzema is back in the national team fold and is one of La Liga’s best strikers.
With Lionel Messi shockingly off to PSG given news of Barcelona’s dire financial situation, Benzema could be one of the faces of the league now. He scored 23 goals last season, which was second in La Liga behind Messi.
In the past year, the ever-underrated striker ranks in the 95th percentile in the “Big Five” leagues in goals per 90 and 77th percentile in assists. He opened up Real Madrid’s season in the 48th minute vs Alaves and added another just 15 minutes later.
Longtime defender Sergio Ramos also moved to PSG in the transfer window but Real Madrid is more than capable of competing for a league title. Adding David Alaba from Bayern Munich is a big signing and the Austrian will hope to hit the ground running.
Unsurprisingly, Real Madrid is the soccer betting favorite in this match, at -180. I think life under Ancelotti will continue to get off to a good start and Madrid will win at Levante, just like last season. The Levante back line should have no answer for the likes of Benzema, Vinicius Jr. and Luka Modric. So, take Los Blancos to win.