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Preview: Southampton vs. Levante - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Southampton vs. Levante - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Pre-Season Friendlies clash between Southampton and Levante, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

With less than two weeks to go until the beginning of the new Premier League campaign, Southampton welcome Levante to St. Mary's in a pre-season friendly.

The Saints' last pre-season game saw them claim a 3-1 win over Swansea City, while Levante fell to a 1-0 defeat against Valencia.

Match preview

Southampton had a relatively mixed Premier League campaign last season, having fallen down the table after a strong start.

Following a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United and a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the 12th and 13th games of the season respectively, the Saints rose to fourth spot, putting themselves in a strong position to battle for European football heading into the second half of the season.

However, the form of Ralph Hasenhuttl's side quickly dropped, as they won just five of the remaining 25 league games, with a particular low point coming in February as they were thrashed 9-0 by Manchester United.

While the Hampshire outfit did pick up an eye-catching 1-0 home win over Liverpool just before the half-way point of the season, they were unable to stop the slip down the table, eventually succumbing to a somewhat underwhelming 15th-placed finish.

Nonetheless, Hasenhuttl's men did comfortably achieve the ultimate goal of avoiding relegation, having never been threatened by the drop, meaning they will now head into their eighth straight Premier League season with the hopes of breaking into the top ten this time around.

The Saints will certainly take confidence from their efforts in pre-season so far, with a trip to Wales producing victories over both Cardiff City and Swansea City.

They first recorded a resounding 4-0 win over Cardiff, with Che Adams hitting a brace alongside goals from Theo Walcott and Moussa Djenepo, before Nathan Tella, Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong got on the scoresheet to see Hasenhuttl's men overturn a one-goal deficit to beat the Swans 3-1.

Having returned from their trip, the Saints will now welcome fans back to St. Mary's for two games against Spanish opposition, starting with Wednesday's clash, as they look to build more momentum for the upcoming campaign.

Similarly to their hosts, Levante's finish to last season was far below what the majority of their efforts throughout the campaign would have suggested, as Paco Lopez's side failed to win any of their last eight La Liga matches of the season.

A 1-0 victory over Eibar saw Los Granotas rise back up to ninth spot in the Spanish top flight with eight games to go, giving them an outside chance of achieving European qualification, but a tally of just three points from those remaining matches saw them drop all the way to 14th place by the end of the campaign.

Despite the disappointing final league position, the campaign did provide plenty of highlights for the Valencia-based side, as they recorded victories over Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, who finished first and second respectively, while drawing 3-3 with Barcelona late in the season.

Lopez's side will now hope that next season provides the top-half finish that they looked to have kept a hold of throughout the majority of last year, with pre-season preparation and a strong start crucial in their bid to beat the competition to European spots.

They got off to a good start in the summer with a 3-1 win over Rennes, as Roberto Soldado, Jorge de Frutos and Jose Luis Morales all got on the scoresheet.

Lopez's men would then pick up a narrow 2-1 victory over Greek outfit Atromitos before returning to Spain to draw 0-0 with Europa League winners Villarreal.

While they had a very positive run in the first three games, Los Granotas now come into Wednesday's game on the back of a defeat, having lost 1-0 to local rivals Valencia in the latest edition of the Derbi Valenciano.

They will now look to get back on track with a positive result against Premier League opposition before the new La Liga season kicks off in under two weeks.

Southampton Pre-Season Friendlies form:
  • W
  • W

Levante Pre-Season Friendlies form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L

Team News

While Southampton have made plenty of changes throughout the first two pre-season games, the starting XI against Swansea could be similar to the one deployed at the beginning of Wednesday's game.

Club captain James Ward-Prowse should again be left out as a precautionary measure following a minor knock.

Exciting prospect Nathan Tella has impressed in pre-season so far, and the Saints should again give the winger plenty of time on the pitch in front of their fans.

The club announced the signing of young full-back Tino Livramento from Chelsea on Monday, and Hasenhuttl could take a first look at his newest recruit in Wednesday's home game.

Levante made an interesting addition to the squad in the summer with the capture of experienced forward Roberto Soldado, and the former Tottenham Hotspur frontman did not take long to get on the scoresheet as he found the net in the win over Rennes.

He could again feature in attack alongside Roger Marti, who hit 12 goals in La Liga for Los Granotas last season.

Experienced forward Jose Luis Morales was arguably their key man last campaign, and he could be deployed from the start on Wednesday, as Lopez works out his strongest XI before their opening game against Cadiz.

Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud; Tella, Romeu, Armstrong, Redmond; Adams, Ings

Levante possible starting lineup:
Cardenas; Son, Pier, Vezo, Clerc; De Frutos, Campana, Bardhi, Morales; Marti, Soldado

We say: Southampton 2-1 Levante

While Wednesday presents a somewhat tougher test than Southampton's opening two games, they should have enough to get over the line if they can keep their stars firing.

Che Adams continues to improve, while the likes of Tella and Redmond should create plenty of problems for the Levante back line.

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