- The txuri urdin squad, which visits the bottom team, cannot afford any more setbacks if they do not want to see their advantage reduced to a minimum
- Silva’s presence after his two-game ban is confirmed in an ‘eleven’ that points to the diamond in the middle
“Stop looking in the rearview mirror and step on the gas.” The phrase is taken from a song by Sabina with Javier Gurruchaga, but Imanol could use it in his pre-match talk today. Real is forced to return to winning ways tonight against Levante (Ciutat de Valencia, 9pm España, Goal), to prevent their pursuers and rivals, Villarreal and Athletic, from beginning to breathe down their neck. The txuri urdin have left too many points along the way in the last three days, in which they have only added two points out of nine, and that has distanced their options from fighting for the Champions League, which multiplied after the previous double victory against Espanyol and Elche, and has caused the European cushion to be reduced to five points, which are the ones that have an advantage over the eighth, which is Athletic. A victory would scare away the ghosts and would allow the txuri urdin to burst the rear-view mirror and look forward, since the first consequence would be to pass Betis in the table. With Silva, everything is easier.
It is that the Gran Canarian returns to the team to get him out of that quagmire of results and play in which he got into in the second half of Vallecas, where he lost two points and that feeling of hierarchy and fluidity that he had acquired in the previous duels and in the first 45 minutes of that same game against Rayo. Imanol has shaken the walls of Zubieta this week with his anger at the squad for those 41 disastrous minutes.
The forecast is that, with Silva’s return after two suspension matches, the coach will persist with the 4-4-2, with the privileged midfield formed by Zubimendi, Merino -somewhat lower in recent weeks-, Rafinha and the Arguineguin. Isak charges options to return to keep Sorloth company at the spearhead. Januzaj and Portu also oppose that square. The coach included two ‘colts’ such as Ander Martín and Naïs Djouahra in his list of 23, in which Oyarzabal, Barrenetxea, Fernandez and Monreal are the casualties.
Much better with Lisci
In txuri urdin’s eagerness to distance Villarreal from seventh to seven points and Athletic from eighth to eight in the opening match of the day, Levante, a bottom player almost evicted, would prove to be the most propitious rival, but Alessio Lisci’s team resists dying. The Mediterranean team only adds 26 points in 34 games, but has won five of the last 15 -among others against Atlético (0-1) and Villarreal (2-0)- and in a hypothetical classification of the last 19 games -a entire lap, which are the ones the Italian coach is leading-, the Granota team would be 15th with 19 points, much closer to a Real team that would be ninth with 27.
The Granota team has the very important loss of De Frutos, but they recover Roger Martí and have José Luis Morales, an innate talent who has scored 12 goals this season.
This ends in 15 days, there are four games left and Real has not yet achieved its European place. It’s time to accelerate from this Friday night.
Levante wants to fill the stadium
If Real wins, Levante will have certified a kind of virtual relegation with three games to go, but in Valencia they have conspired to, at least, delay that moment and believe in the miracle of permanence. For that reason, the Granota board has called for the Ciutat de Valencia, which has capacity for 26,000 spectators, to be filled on Friday night. They have made tickets available to members at a reduced price, between 4 and 12 euros, so that the grandstand presents a good appearance and pushes in favor of a Levante that needs everything.
Classic fief ‘scoundrel’ for the txuri urdin
The Ciutat de Valencia is not usually lavish in satisfaction for the Real. The statistics of the txuri urdin squad say it all: in 17 duels there, eight wins for Levante, seven draws and only two wins from Gipuzkoa, 0-4 in the 2015/16 campaign and 1-3 in 2018/19. It is one of the scenarios to be conquered by Imanol Alguacil, since, with him on the bench, Real tied 1-1 in the 2019/20 campaign and lost on matchday 34 of 2020/21 (2-1). In both cases, the txuri urdin squad went ahead with a goal from Isak (heel and free kick), but could not hold the result.