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Stodgy Real Madrid need a spark

Real Madrid

Mendilibar expects tough encounter

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Levante coach Jose Luis Mendilibar believes Villarreal's early start to the season will mean they hit the ground running in their Primera Division opener at the Ciutat de Valencia on Sunday evening.

Cani, Giovani Dos Santos and Mario Gaspar were on target as the Yellow Submarine won 3-0 away to Astana in the first leg of their Europa League play-off on Thursday, and Mendilibar reckons that will stand them in good stead.

"In theory, there may be fatigue, but mentally the result they got will have helped them because they have virtually won the tie and will not have to think about the game next week," he said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"Villarreal are strong because they are already competing. (Thursday's) match was vital for them. The result was good and shows the form they are in."

Mendilibar joked that his players would be more tired than Marcelino Garcia Toral's, saying: "They could sleep the entire flight - they have beds on the plane and will have rested as much if not more than Levante."

He added of Sunday's opponents: "Even if they change five or six players, they will not lose any intensity.

"It will not be easy, but we have to be create danger and scare them."

Mendilibar will be without captain Juanfran Garcia (knee) and midfielder Jaime Gavilan (thigh) through injury this weekend.

Marcelino acknowledged his team were not at 100 per cent in midweek, but was pleased with what he saw.

"It's a big step, but we cannot think it's done," he said.

"I liked pretty much everything about the game. It was the first of the season, and fatigue was an influence.

"Perhaps without that we would have scored another goal, but we leave satisfied."

Marcelino will have to make do without winger Hernan Perez and defender Gabriel for the trip to Valencia, the latter having picked up a knock in Astana.


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