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Sources: Barca near agreement to sign De Ligt

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Real Madrid coach complains about 'curious' fixture difference with Barcelona

Following last week's shock defeat to Girona, Real Madrid travel to Levante in search of an essential three points.
Shaka Hislop and Craig Burley shed some light on Real Madrid's surprising loss to Girona, citing too many changes to the lineup as the problem.

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari has described Spain's fixture schedule as "curious," with his team's Sunday evening game at Levante giving them a day less than Barcelona to prepare for Wednesday's Copa del Rey semifinal Clasico.

The Primera Division fixture list sees Barcelona at Sevilla on Saturday afternoon, giving them an extra day ahead of a week also featuring a La Liga Clasico at the Bernabeu next Saturday.

"The calendar is curious and very entertaining," Solari told a news conference on Saturday. "We don't decide it, so all we can do is take it on as a big challenge to play in different conditions."

Solari stressed that his players could not turn their focus to the week's two Clasico clashes and had to concentrate on beating Levante.

"Last week we dropped points, the gap grew, and we have to cut it again," he said. "We must battle until the end in La Liga.

"We are visiting a tough stadium tomorrow, and we must have the right intensity to take it on. We must be wide awake from the first minute, play our game, press high, be together, aggressive, and play our game on the ball."

Meanwhile, media reports claimed Marcelo had twice met senior Madrid figures this week to discuss a summer exit after criticism of his performance in last weekend's defeat to Girona.

"Marcelo is training very well, as they all are," Solari said. "I see them all fine, training happily, and focused ahead of a very big week. We are all professionals here, and know how to handle praise and criticism."

Solari said he did not expect club captain Sergio Ramos to get an extra ban from UEFA after admitting deliberately picking up a late booking in Wednesday's Champions League game against Ajax.

"I believe this issue was clarified earlier, you can see in the play itself and Sergio cleared it up himself," the coach said. "So we have no doubts about it."

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