Karim Benzema moved level with Raul as Real Madrid's second-highest all-time top goalscorer and Vinicius Junior scored a hat-trick as the LaLiga champions relegated Levante with a 6-0 hammering.

Ferland Mendy got Carlo Ancelotti's side, who were crowned champions a fortnight ago, on their way early on, before Benzema joined Madrid icon Raul on 323 goals soon after.

Rodrygo and Vinicius added further goals before the interval, with the latter completing his treble in the second half at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday.

While the rout restored Madrid's 12-point advantage over Barcelona at the summit, it condemned Levante drop with two games to play.

Any hopes Levante had of causing an upset were dispelled in the 13th minute when Mendy powered into the penalty area and slotted past Daniel Cardenas.

Federico Valverde then steered a volley against the post, before Benzema doubled his side's advantage with a close-range header from Vinicius' cross after 19 minutes.

Rodrygo slid home Luka Modric's cross to make it three in the 34th minute, while Cardenas twice pushed Valverde drives onto the crossbar as Madrid dominated.

They made it four in the 45th minute, when Vinicius collected Modric's pass and curled past Cardenas from a tight angle.

Cardenas pawed away Modric's whipped effort and Vinicius saw an effort ruled out for offside after the interval. 

The Brazil international was not to be denied in the 68th minute, though, tapping into an empty net after Benzema had rounded Cardenas.

He had his hat-trick seven minutes from full-time courtesy of a cool finish from 10 yards out after breaking through Levante's dispirited backline. 

Carlo Ancelotti has refuted suggestions that he could use Real Madrid's upcoming league games to prepare for their crucial Champions League second leg clash with Paris Saint-Germain, for which Casemiro and Ferland Mendy will be suspended.

Casemiro and Mendy picked up decisive yellow cards in the LaLiga leaders' 1-0 first-leg defeat to PSG, ruling them out of the crucial second leg in Spain next month. 

Brazil midfielder Casemiro has appeared in all seven of Real's Champions League games this season, while left-back Mendy has made five appearances, both establishing themselves as key parts of Ancelotti's attempts to bring the Spanish and European crowns back to the Bernabeu.

Speaking ahead of a trip to Rayo Vallecano, Ancelotti insisted that he will not use upcoming games to find the right balance for Real's reunion with PSG, highlighting the importance of their league fixtures.

"What can I tell you? It would be a good idea [to experiment] if we had friendly games," he said.

"But we have two really important games, finals, against Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad.

"Two victories would mean a lot in order to win LaLiga, [so] I will play my best starting 11 in the games before Paris Saint-Germain.

"Toni Kroos can replace Casemiro, but he doesn't need to get used to playing that [deeper] position, he has played it many times.

"I have experienced players, I don’t need to try new things. I Haven't thought yet about who will replace Casemiro and Mendy, as we have two really important matches before that."

Are Barcelona set to make a splash in 2022?

After losing Lionel Messi on a free transfer due to their crippling debt, Barca are busy planning for next season.

Franck Kessie and Youri Tielemans are believed to be on the radar at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYEING PAIR

Barcelona are targeting Milan star Franck Kessie and Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, according to reports.

Kessie is out of contract at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at Milan amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.

Mundo Deportivo claims LaLiga giants Barca are considering a move for the Ivory Coast international, as well as Tielemans – who is reportedly wanted by the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fichajes says Premier League champions Manchester City are plotting a bid for Leeds United and England star Kalvin Phillips.

Real Madrid are interested in Lyon's Rayan Cherki as a long-term replacement for Karim Benzema, per Fichajes. It comes as Madrid continue to pursue PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are considering a move for Madrid left-back Ferland Mendy.

United are ready to rival Barca, Juve and Bayern Munich for RB Leipzig attacker Dani Olmo, according to Marca.

Real Madrid left-back Ferland Mendy is set to miss Thursday's LaLiga match with Granada after sustaining another injury.

The club confirmed the France international is suffering with tibial periostitis following tests carried out on Tuesday.

The news is the latest injury blow to Madrid in a season blighted by absences, particularly in defence.

Mendy has missed their past five LaLiga matches, as well as the first leg of the Champions League semi-final defeat to Chelsea, with a calf problem.

Captain Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez have been struggling for fitness in 2021 and all missed the 2-2 draw with Sevilla on Sunday.

That result allowed Madrid to move into second place in the table with three games remaining, level on points with Barcelona but ahead due to their superior head-to-head record, with Atletico Madrid two points clear at the top.

Madrid have only won three of the 10 games Mendy has missed this season in all competitions, all but one of which have been in the league.

They have taken 2.4 points per game on average with the former Lyon man in the side, compared to just 1.4 without him.

Zinedine Zidane has the deepest squad that has been available to him for some time as Real Madrid travel to face Chelsea with Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Federico Valverde and Ferland Mendy all available.

Madrid have often had a significantly depleted squad over the past couple of months, with a host of key players ruled out for extended periods.

But with Los Blancos needing a positive at Stamford Bridge in Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg, Zidane is once again able to count upon many of them.

While Raphael Varane's absence with an abductor injury sustained against Osasuna at the weekend is a blow, Ramos is available again for the first time since the end of March.

Whether he comes straight back into the starting XI given his lack of match action is another matter, though Eder Militao and Nacho have looked a solid pairing in recent weeks, keeping a clean sheet against Liverpool at Anfield in the quarter-finals.

Zidane will also have options at left-back, with Mendy recovering from a calf strain suffered in mid-April, while Marcelo has been able to travel.

The Brazilian was seemingly set to miss out entirely after he was called up to monitor a local election.

But, according to Spanish outlet La Sexta, an elderly woman – who was apparently a "second substitute" for the election role – volunteered to take Marcelo's place, freeing him up to join the squad before their flight to London.

Valverde, who has missed the past couple of weeks after testing positive for coronavirus, has joined up as well.

Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Chelsea, meaning they either need to win or secure a score-draw – with the exception of 1-1 – to progress to the final in Istanbul at the end of the month.

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