After the disappointment of dropping two points last weekend in what should have been an east victory over relegation-battling Celta de Vigo, La Liga leaders Real Madrid face what could be a difficult road assignment. Los Blancos must travel to Valencia where Levante UD have taken six of their nine league wins this season, and they must take all three points to remain on top of the Spanish top-flight table.
Earlier on Saturday, Barcelona cruised past 16th-place Eibar by a 5-0 tally, putting the defending champions back in first place by two points — as well as with a +3 goal differential. In other words, nothing short of a clear victory for Zinedine Zidane’s squad will suffice in the Saturday night match.
Even though Real Madrid decided not to release him from his contract, they remain without Welsh international fullback Gareth Bale, who continues to nurse an injury.
News leaked earlier on Saturday morning that Bale’s rumored summer transfer to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning, that would have reportedly paid him the equivalent of $1.3 million per week, fell through at the last moment. This sudden change of mind by his current club has left Bale furious at Real Madrid management, according to a report by The Sun.
According to Jiangsu Suning manager Cosmin Olaroiu, the Bale deal hit a roadblock when Real Madrid insisted on a transfer fee for the Welsh star, rather than granting Bale an unconditional release.
“Paying the transfer and his salary was a little bit over the budget and so we looked for another player,” Olaroiu said, as quoted by The Sun. “I know that it was done 90 percent in the evening, and then in the morning everything changed.”
One thing that likely will not change is the betting line on the Saturday match. According to odds published by the Evening Standard, Real Madrid head to Valencia as heavy favorites, with odds of an outright win set at 40/85. The home side are, unsurprisingly, significant underdogs at 6/1 for a victory. Odds that Real Madrid will suffer a second consecutive draw against a lower-ranked team are set at 9/2.
Los Blancos have won 10 games of their most recent 13 at Estadi Ciutat de València, and also sport the best road record in La Liga, according to RealMadrid.com, with seven wins, 25 points, and 21 goals on the road.
Real Madrid will have their Belgian striker Eden Hazard back in the lineup for the second straight game after an injury had limited him to only eight appearances prior to his return against Celta Vigo last Sunday.
The Levante UD vs. Real Madrid La Liga match gets underway at 9 p.m. Central European Time on Saturday at City of Valencia Stadium in Valencia, Spain. In the United States, where cable network BeIn Sports will televise the match, as well as provide an online stream, kickoff time converts to 3 p.m. EST, noon PST.