This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
The international break is finally behind us and the clubs are once again gearing up for the weekend’s action. Real Madrid will be hosting a tricky opponent in the form of Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu this Saturday, and it will be extremely important that Zinedine Zidane doesn’t fall for the “trap game” that lies ahead of them.
Just a couple of days later, in mid-week, Los Blancos have much bigger fish to fry as they travel to the City of Light to face Paris Saint-Germain. Naturally, the Champions League usually takes precedence in such situations and many would be quick to throw the seemingly insignificant league game under the bus just to make sure the big European night goes well.
But looking back the league table and especially at Real Madrid’s upcoming schedule, can Zidane actually afford to sacrifice the Levante game for an off-chance he gets a more favourable result in the Champions League?
Following that, they also have a trip to Sevilla, a place at which they haven’t been able to claim victory, or even a point for that matter, since the 2014/15 season.
Taking all of that into consideration and judging by the results we’ve seen from them so far in the season, it’s probably pretty safe to say that they really can’t afford to slip now against Levante.
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Currently, the Galacticos are sitting in fifth with a tally of five points after three games played.
And yes, it’s only the start of the campaign and the season is long. Other teams will drop points too and the league table will chop and change. But, they also have to keep in mind that Atletico Madrid have three wins in three games and are on course to completely run away with it if Barcelona and Real Madrid do not get their acts together.
This becomes an even bigger problem when we take into account that the last game of this month will be a Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano, and whoever wins that one just might gain a significant advantage.
But if Zidane slips significantly before then, it could mean that his team are playing catch-up from the get-go and even before they get a chance to directly put pressure on their city rivals.
Levante might be the first step towards clawing their way back to the top, or at the very least, close enough to it so they represent some danger for whoever lies top of the pile. And now that he actually might get some of his injured troops back into the squad, there will be no more excuses moving forward.
Yes, the transfer window could’ve been better and yes, there are still issues Real Madrid have to resolve in the not so distant future, but the goal is to focus on what they’ve got right here and right now and start winning once again. Zidane has a big enough squad full of talent, experience and world-class players to compete on all fronts.
The rather poor ending to the 2018/19 season should definitely be a warning sign, and now that an equally frustrating summer is behind them and their squad is finally getting back together, maybe we once again see a dominant at the Bernabeu.
But it all has to start somewhere, and for Real Madrid, that first step may very well be this weekend against Levante.