Real Madrid will look to returnees Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos to give them a lift and clear the storm clouds hanging over them when they entertain Levante on Sunday night in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
It has been a difficult week for Real Madrid in the wake of their defeats away to Athletic Club and Schalke 04 with players such as Gareth Bale, Iker Casillas and Sami Khedira singled out for criticism along with coach Carlo Ancelotti by the fans and the press. Club President Florentino Perez even had to make a public appearance to dispel rumors that Ancelotti’s job would be on the line should they lose to FC Barcelona next weekend.
It is that game in the Camp Nou Stadium, a game which could well decide the outcome in the league title which casts a shadow over Sunday’s meeting. Depending on Barca’s result away to Eibar on Sunday, Real Madrid could kick off four points behind their rivals. Fail to win against Levante and lose in the Camp Nou and Barca would start to disappear into the distance.
For that reason alone Ancelotti will look to Modric, who returned after for half an hour on Tuesday after three and a half months on the sidelines, to lead the midfield and take some of the weight of Tony Kroos, who is paying the price for playing around 3,500 minutes football already this season.
Likewise, Sergio Ramos will be back in the squad, if not the side after six weeks on the sidelines and Real Madrid fans will hope he gets game time to get him back to his best before facing the triple threat of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Leo Messi.
There is also the chance Keylor Navas could play against his former club after Casillas’s poor display on Tuesday.
The fans in the Bernabeu are unlikely to be forgiving with their side after recent setbacks and if Levante are able to avoid conceding an early goal it could work in their favor and Levante coach, Lucas Alcaraz has little sympathy with his opposite number.
“It’s not a question of whether or not it is fair or not. It’s football and that’s the way things are,” said Alcaraz. Enditem