Real Madrid 2 Levante 0. The scoreline does not give the full picture; rather it hides the fact that the Royal Whites should have scored 5 or more goals. What the Los Blancos lacked was the finishing abilities in front of the goal. The opportunities came and were wasted to increase the frustration of the fans. In the end, full points had been secured – well, with such lack of incisiveness in front of the goal would not do Real Madrid any good when they meet their arch-rivals and other tough contenders.

Zinedine Zidane switched to a 4-3-3 formation and upfront – Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio were played on the wings with Karim Benzema in the center. The midfield trio included Luka Modric, Casemiro, and Fede Valverde while at the back Nacho Fernandez was played as a right-back due to the absence of Dani Carvajal and Odriozola.

The penetrative left-back Ferland Mendy combined brilliantly with Vinicius on the left flank, and Real Madrid used the wings and half-spaces to try to get in the box. Several crosses poured down in the center and threatened Levante as Real looked to impose their offensive intent early on.

Defensively, Real kept a high line, which is not the scenario we are accustomed to under Zidane recently.

Levante’s chances came through rare Real Madrid giveaways or set-pieces – the most notable chance came from Nikola Vukcevic towering over Nacho at the far post and hitting the cross-bar from a corner.

Real Madrid moved in front in the 16th minute when a corner fell to Vinicius at the back post and he made the most of not being closed down by bending a delightful effort into the far side of the net.

The Los Blancos showed greater urgency after the restart and, in the space of four minutes, Benzema struck the base of the post before Vinicius shaved the upright and missed the target from six yards out. There was a brilliant interchange between Asensio and Vinicius, which opened Vinicius to score from an angle – the Brazilian just missed by a whisker. The towering effort of Sergio Ramos was ruled out by VAR – had those opportunities were utilized, surely, the game would have been done and dusted long ago.

But the weather was made heavy as the highline defence of Madrid opened the opportunities for Levante in transitions – Thibaut Courtois stepped up yet again to make some fantastic and gallant saves to keep the hopes of Real Madrid alive.

Levante were unperturbed and Bardhi saw a 25-yard thunderbolt parried by Courtois, who then kept out the midfielder’s next effort, which took a deflection off Casemiro, with his leg.

In the stoppage time, Benzema finally found the net and made it 2-0.

But that is not the end of it.

Real are still lacking the sharpness in front of the goal, while their defence gets caught during the break. Levante did not have the finishers, otherwise, in no time, they could have shocked the titleholders. The shakiness at the back had been evident in the previous outings s well whereas, the lack of sharpness continues to frustrate.

If Vinicius is not that sharp in front of the goal then he must emphasize his efforts on scoring goals from the distance. Today, he showed how clinical he could be while taking those long-range shots and we witnessed it before.  If he relies on that more, then the fans would be treated with magical goals. Again, this would boost his confidence to a great extent.

Luka Modric enjoyed a great game and with time his intensity tends to increase more and more. Meanwhile, Asensio was threatening on the right – cut back in, made those diagonal runs, and split-opened the Levante defence – the scorers were not just sharp to finish.

Real are on top, but they are still shaky.