When does the abnormal become normal? Maybe, it's when there's a consistent paradox that happens so frequently you get used to it. Levante are overachievers, but they are now doing it on a regular basis. The shock factor is at a minimum, though they know not to take their relative success for granted. 'Nothing ever lasts forever,' sung Ian McCulloch, which is why it's important to savour the moment.
Real Madrid unveiled plans to build new quarters for youth team players at the Valdebebas training complex this week, timely done after recent criticism of their 'cantera' structure. José Mourinho opted not to attend due to preparing for the Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund.
Juan Ignacio Martínez rested some of his key players in Europa League. Gustavo Munúa, Juanfran, Pedro López, Juanlu, José Barkero and former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins are all likely to return.
With Gonzalo Higuaín and Karim Benzema both sidelined, Cristiano Ronaldo could be set for a move into the middle on Sunday, a role he occupied in the April 2011 Clasico and at various times for Manchester United. Álvaro Arbeloa is back to offer some respite at left back, whilst Fábio Coentrão is close to being ready once again. Xabi Alonso anchors the midfield following suspension.
'The Frogs' were also involved in European action this week, as they held FC Twente to an uninspiring goalless draw in Holland on Thursday night. They have won six of their last seven home fixtures in La Liga.
A late Mesut Özil free-kick ensured a share of the spoils against Dortmund. In the league, a 4-0 win over Real Zaragoza saw Mourinho become the fastest coach in Real Madrid’s history to reach 100 victories, taking just 133 games.
In formidable style, Real Madrid only lost to two teams in La Liga last season - a 1-0 defeat at the Ciutat de Valencia on match-day three was a much-needed kick up the rear, inspiring them to achieve greater things. A repeat this time round (25.00 for Levante to win 1-0), however, would deal a blow that they would struggle to recover from domestically.
Missing two world-class strikers would ordinarily be a cause for concern for most club sides in football. However, if neither are your top scorer then the problem is diluted somewhat. Ronaldo has his sights set on the Ballon d'Or and thinks it's just public perception that is denying him the honour. He's just 3.20 to get the first goal.
Real Madrid are proving that goals can come from anywhere at the moment, with ten different goal-scorers in their last four games. It would certainly be more profitable to have a punt on another midfielder: Di María (9.50), Özil (12.00) and Modrić (11.50) have all been amongst the goals recently.
Mourinho has yet to win at Levante - in fact Real are yet to even score there in the league under Mou. Without his two main strikers, the task will be even more difficult. Luckily they have scoring machine that is designed for such tightly fought contests. My money is on a narrow Real Madrid victory at 1.33.
As the ball swung into the box on Tuesday evening at the Bernabéu, few expected Pepe to be in on the end of the header. The Portuguese stopper is better known for crunching tackles and organising his back-line. Will this inspire him to future goals? You can back the centre-back to open the scoring 30.00 or to revert to type and get a yellow card at 2.70.
Score prediction: Levante 0-2 Real Madrid (7.50)