La Liga Clubs Learn Their Copa del Rey Fate as Round of 32 Draw Made

?Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were among the 20 La Liga teams drawn into the Copa del Rey round of 32, each being paired with lower league opposition as per seeding rules.

Holders Barcelona have been handed a tie against Cultural Leonesa from Segunda Division B, the third tier of Spanish football. The team from Leon in north west Spain were beaten 13-2 on aggregate by Real in this round of the competition in 2016/17.

Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa v Real Madrid - Copa del Rey: Round of 32

This year, Real have been drawn against Melilla, another team from Segunda Division B. The away leg of the tie will require an overseas trip as the city of Melilla is located in Spanish territory on the north coast of Africa, sharing a land border with Morocco.

Atletico have been paired with the lowest ranked team left in the competition, Sant Andreu. The club resides in the Barcelona district of the same name and was the only side in the draw from Spain’s Tercera Division, the fourth tier on the league ladder.

Other notable ties include Champions League club Valencia against third tier Ebro, and all-La Liga clashes between Athletic Bilbao and Huesca, and Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad.

The full draw for the 2018/19 Copa del Rey Round of 32 appears below:

Cultural Leonesa vs Barcelona

Ebro vs Valencia

Sant Andreu vs Atletico Madrid

Melilla vs Real Madrid

Villanovense vs Sevilla

Racing Santander vs Real Betis

Almeria vs Villarreal

Real Mallorca vs Real Valladolid

Cadiz vs Espanyol

Sporting Gijon vs Eibar

Lugo vs Levante

Cordoba vs Getafe

Athletic Bilbao vs Huesca

Deportivo Alaves vs Girona

Leganes vs Rayo Vallecano

Celta Vigo vs Real Sociedad

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N’Golo Kante in Line for New Chelsea Deal as Report Claims Only 2 Clubs Could Tempt Him to Leave

?Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is reportedly in line for a bumper new contract at Stamford Bridge and would apparently only consider leaving the club if Real Madrid or Barcelona call.

The French World Cup winner was heavily linked with Paris Saint-Germain during the summer, only to show little interest in walking away from Chelsea.

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With his current contract due to expire in 2021, French media outlet Le 10 Sport speaks of an impending offer to extend his deal to 2023 with a ‘clear salary increase’.

Kante has thrived at Chelsea over the last two seasons since bursting onto the scene as a Premier League winner with Leicester and the report claims that he never wished to leave during the summer – with there being only two clubs in the world that could tempt him to reconsider.

They are Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. Whether either would be interested in making an offer could depend on how the next few months pan out.

Real star Luka Modric has recently been linked with Inter for the second time since summer and his departure would leave Los Blancos with a hole to fill in midfield. Yet Kante, who is similar to existing Bernabeu destroyer Casemiro, isn’t really the right player for that role.

Southampton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League

His energy could certainly benefit Barcelona, although with eyes on strengthening in defence, as well as on Paul Pogba and now also a potential return for Neymar, there is unlikely to be the money available that would allow the club to buy Kante as well.

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Real Madrid vs Levante Preview: How to Watch, Recent Form, Team News, Key Battle & More

?On Saturday, Real Madrid host Levante in La Liga as Los Blancos look to get back on track after a run of poor results.

Julen Lopetegui’s side sit fourth in the league and will expect to return to winning ways after failing to win all of their last four games in all competitions. 

Eleventh placed Levante, meanwhile, will hope to capitalise on Madrid’s recent run of poor form.

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The preview for the match can be found below.

?When? Saturday 20 October? @ 12.00PM (BST)
?Where? ?Santiago Bernabeu
?How Can I Watch It? ?Eleven Sports

Recent Form

?Real Madrid, much like ?Barcelona, are going through an unprecedented run of poor form leading into this fixture. Before their much needed international break, Madrid had failed to win – or even score – in four games. 

These fixtures included a 3-0 away drubbing from Valencia, a draw at home with close rivals ?Atletico Madrid, a Champions League defeat by CSKA Moscow, and then a last gasp 1-0 loss to Alaves. 

Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander

Madrid’s last goal came from Marco Asensio in a 1-0 win over Espanyol back on 22 September. Goals were always going to be a tricky to come by when Cristiano Ronaldo left for ?Juventus in the summer, and it seems that the players he left behind in the Spanish capital aren’t quite ready to step forward out of his colossal shadow just yet. 

Levante come into this game in much higher spirits than Real. Sitting 11th in the league, the side from Valencia have won each of their last two La Liga fixtures. 

They beat Getafe 1-0 away from home and the week before they managed a 2-1 victory over Alaves. They’ve looked steady this season and might be quietly confident of adding to Real’s recent woes. 

Levante UD v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga


Key Battle

Luka Modric vs José Campaña

Croatian midfield master Modric has had a wonderful past few years. He came into the 2018/19 season off the back of winning the Champions League with Real and leading his national team to a World Cup final.

Rightly named in the best player in Russia in the summer, Modric might even been given the game’s greatest individual prize this year, with many tipping him to pip former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona rival Lionel Messi to the coveted Ballon d’Or.

But it’s smaller league ties such as these where Madrid will need Modric’s focus if they want to return to winning ways. Having yet to score this season and only registering one assist, it’s fair to say Modric has a slight World Cup hangover, but that’s not to say he’s been particularly poor by any stretch of the imagination – at times he has still dictated games for Los Blancos.

Pre-Season Friendly'SC Heerenveen v Levante UD'

Having featured in all eight of Levante’s league matches this season, José Campaña is a crucial member of Paco López’s midfield. The former Crystal Palace man will have to work hard to pressure Modric in possession and stop the Croatian finding his rhythm. 

Ironically, back in 2012, current Real manager Julen Lopetegui won the UEFA European Under-19 Championship with Campaña as his captain.


Team News

Real Madrid are set to be boosted by the return of Gareth Bale, Isco and Marcelo – all said to be ready and fit to come into the starting lineup this weekend. But Dani Carvajal is still injured.

Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander

Levante will be unable to use loanee Borja Mayoral as Real are his parent club. On top of this, Armando Sadiku, Coke, and Nikola Vukcevic are all expected to miss the game with injuries.


Predicted Lineups

Real Madrid: Courtois; Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Odriozola; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Isco, Benzema, Bale.

Levante: Olazabal; Cabaco, Postigo, Pier; Jason, Bardhi, Campaña, Toño; Morales, Boateng, Rochina.


Prediction

Madrid have a lot of class returning from injury issues but those players need to step up immediately. They need goals and they need points. 

But perhaps more so than the players, the manager seriously needs a win. Lopetegui will be desperate to ease the pressure on his job.

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Levante, on the other hand, come into this game with none of that pressure. If they lose, it won’t change much in terms of their season. They might just come away with something from the Bernabeu.

Prediction: Real Madrid 1-1 Levante

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Michael Laudrup Reportedly Eyeing Real Madrid Managerial Role Following Los Blancos’ Slump in Form

Michael Laudrup has reportedly offered his services to Real Madrid ?in the event that the Spanish giants choose to part ways with current boss Julen Lopetegui.

Lopetegui’s stint as Madrid boss got off to a rocky start after he was sacked from the Spanish national team on the eve of the World Cup. 

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The Spaniard revealed he had agreed a deal to take on the managerial role at the Bernabeu after the tournament. Things haven’t improved since the season started either, with Los Blancos languishing in fourth in La Liga having scored just 12 times in eight games.

It’s this poor start to the season – and a 409 minute goal draught – that’s cranked up the press on Lopetegui and kick started talk that the Spaniard could be sacked if results don’t improve.

According to Telemadrid (via AS), former Swansea and Getafe boss Michael Laudrup has thrown his hat in the ring to replace Lopetegui by getting in touch with Real and informing them that he would be available.

Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

While it’s unclear whether Real are planning on sacking Lopetegui, one thing is obvious – the Spaniard must find a way to solve Real’s issues in front of goal. Should Real’s struggles continue then the club from the capital may have no other choice than to look for a new boss.

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Chelsea to Offer Eden Hazard New Mega Contract to End Speculation of Real Madrid Move

?Chelsea look set to offer Eden Hazard a huge new contract in an attempt to fend off interest from Real Madrid, with sources suggesting that contract negotiations could be started in the coming weeks. The Belgian has been vocal about his desire to eventually join Real Madrid, but he appears to be happy in west London for the time being. 

After an impressive World Cup campaign, Hazard has started the season in scintillating form under new boss Maurizio Sarri – topping the Premier League scoring chart with seven goals. 

Chairman Bruce Buck has hinted that ?Chelsea could pull out all the stops in order to keep their prized asset, as reported by ?The Sun. 

“Every Chelsea fan in London and around the world loves ?Eden Hazard, and he’s not only a great footballer but I think he’s a wonderful lad,” said Buck, who was speaking at a Financial Times future of football event. 

“We want him to stay and we will do what we have to do to entice him to stay. Let’s see how it goes between now and the end of the season.” 

Chelsea v Liverpool - Premier League

Hazard himself recently stated that ?a move to Madrid in the January tran?sfer window is “not possible”. The Belgian midfielder added that he has too much respect for Chelsea and does not want to leave the club on bad terms.

It remains to be seen whether Chelsea’s new offer will be enough to dissuade Hazard from his goal of joining ?Los Blancos, but fans will undoubtedly expect the clubs’ management to whatever it takes to keep their star at Stamford Bridge.

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