Ancelotti looks to returnees Modric and Ramos as Real Madrid face Levante
Madrid, March 14 (IANS) 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 UD in a La Liga match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday.
It has been a difficult week for Real in the wake of their away defeat against Athletic Club Bilbao in the league. They also lost 3-4 at home against FC Schalke 04 in a Champions League match. Their 2-0 away win against the German side ensured their entry into the quarterfinals on aggregate score 5-4.
Players such as Gareth Bale, Iker Casillas and Sami Khedira were singled out for criticism along with coach Carlo Ancelotti by the fans and the press following the losses. Club President Florentino Perez even had to make a public appearance to dispel rumours 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 Barcelona's result away to SD Eibar on Sunday, Real could kick off four points behind their rivals. Fail to win against Levante and lose in the Camp Nou and Barcelona would start to disappear into the distance.
For that reason alone Ancelotti will look to Croatia's Modric, who returned after for half an hour on Tuesday after three and a half months on the sidelines, to lead the midfield. He is expected to take some of the weight of Tony Kroos, who is paying the price for playing around 3,500 minutes football already this season.
Likewise, defender Sergio Ramos will be back in the squad, if not the side after six weeks on the sidelines and Real 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 favour 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.