Real Madrid vs Levante preview - Mourinho hopes to be on cloud nine

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Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011 by PA

Real Madrid vs Levante preview - Mourinho hopes to be on cloud nine

Jose Mourinho will mark nine years without suffering a home league defeat as a coach if his Real Madrid side can avoid a shock upset against Levante at the Bernabeu.

The last time Mourinho ended a home match on the losing side was on February 23, 2002, when his Porto team lost to Beira Mar. Since then, Mourinho has guided Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and now Madrid to 122 wins in 147 home matches without tasting defeat.

The signs are looking good for Mourinho to continue that run as well, with Madrid having won 21 successive matches in front of their own fans.

Madrid also thrashed Levante 8-0 the last time they hosted the Valencia-based side, which was in the Copa del Rey just before Christmas.

That match will be fresh in the minds of the Levante players, although their coach Luis Garcia has highlighted his side's recent victory over Villarreal as a reason not to fear their trip to Madrid.

Levante head to the capital in buoyant mood having won their last three games - the best current run by any team in La Liga - to climb off the foot of the table and up to 15th spot.

The second of those victories was their shock away triumph over high-flying Villarreal, who had earned 31 from a possible 33 points at El Madrigal heading into the match, and Levante can look to that performance for inspiration as they attempt to breach Madrid's Bernabeu fortress - although Garcia knows it will not be easy.

"We're going to the toughest place in the league, it's not that they are unbeaten, but that they have won every game. However we went to a similar ground (Villarreal) and we won," said Garcia, who wants his side to forget their cup mauling.

"They wiped us off the pitch and it hurt. It's the worst defeat I've experienced, it's very tough to let in eight goals, but if you go there anxious to get payback, which is impossible, I think that would be worse because if you let a goal in then the ghosts will come back."

Levante can also take belief from their two home matches against Madrid this season, which saw them hold Mourinho's men to a 0-0 draw in the league back in September before beating a much-changed XI 2-0 in the second leg of their Copa del Rey tie.

However, Madrid know they can ill afford to drop any points, especially at home, as they look to keep the pressure up on Primera Division leaders Barcelona, who play Athletic Bilbao on Sunday night.

Madrid cut the gap to their arch rivals from seven points to five last weekend after beating Espanyol 1-0 away - that despite playing almost the entire match with a man less after losing goalkeeper Iker Casillas to a red card in the second minute.

With Casillas facing suspension, Antonio Adan could make his first league start for Madrid while Mourinho may decide to rotate his squad with half an eye on next week`s Champions League last-16 first leg with Lyon.



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