Match preview: Levante vs. Atlético

Champions League six-pointer for los Rojiblancos against the La Liga surprise package

Arda holds off Levante defenders

Arda is set to return at Levante (

Atlético travel to Levante tomorrow knowing that a win will put us above Juan Ignacio Martinez’ team, and possibly even back into the race for the Champions League places.

Victory at Hannover on Thursday extended our winning run to three in a row, and confidence in the squad will be flowing as we make the journey east.

Kick off in the Ciudad de Valencia is at the early time of 12:00 CET.

A blistering start had seen our opponents take fourth spot for most of the season to this point, but they have stumbled since new year, leading to an incredible race between the teams behind them looking to take advantage.

Away wins have been hard to come by for Atleti though, and despite having won four in a row on our European travels, it’s been three months since out last league success away from the Calderón.

Earlier in the season we scraped a 3-2 win over Levante under Manzano, and a repeat tomorrow would see us move level on points with a superior head-to-head record.

Most fans gave up hope on a return to Champions League following that mind-boggling late defeat at Zaragoza a fortnight ago, but other results have opened things back up as seemingly nobody wants to join Europe’s elite next year.

However, our hectic schedule has lead to growing concerns over the fitness of some of our players, with Radamel Falcao notably unable to take part in full training today. The Colombian is in red-hot form in front of goal at the moment, but was reportedly restricted to gym work this morning due to fatigue.

Luckily, Arda Turan’s physical state has taken a turn for the better and he, like Gabi and Juanfran, are expected to return to the line-up after serving respective suspensions on Thursday.

Koke is banned after picking up his fifth booking in last week’s win over Getafe so Fran Mérida takes his place, and full-backs Sílvio and Antonio López also remain on the sidelines. No return date has been determined for either as of yet.

El Derbi is of course coming up on Wednesday, and many managers would be tempted to give a rest to key players ahead of such a big game. Against a direct rival in Levante we’re not convinced Simeone will go down that route though, as he opted to bring every available player along for the trip.

The Argentine boss spoke in a press conference at the Cerro del Espino this morning, and stressed that for now he was only thinking about Sunday’s match.

“We face a major rival, one who are having a great season,” he said.

“Nobody thought they would stay at the top of the table, but they have shut a lot of mouths. For us, this is a very important and difficult game.”

Cholo also lamented the early kick-off time, saying: “We know the scheduling is out of our hands, but I would like to see those who choose to give us this kick-off time play on Thursday night, arriving home at 5.30am the next morning, and then again at noon on Sunday.”

“It’s not an excuse, it’s the reality.”

For Levante, Asier del Horno is the sole absentee as he has failed to shake off a niggling hamstring injury. Pedro Botelho and Juanfran do make the squad despite doubts over their fitness.

Manager Juan Ignacio has been a revelation since taking over in the summer, and remained wary of the threat posed by Atlético when speaking ahead of the encounter.

“[Atlético] have a very strong squad, and we are convinced that they will come here with a strong team and try to win,” he insisted.

“They have potential in all areas of their game, but we are well prepared.”

Elsewhere, Real Madrid gear up for the derby with a home clash against our Europa League opponents and Champions League rivals Valencia on Sunday night. All Atlético eyes will be placed firmly upon the Bernabéu come kick-off, as we prepare for the three upcoming matches set to define our season.

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luís, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Arda, Assunção, Gabi, Fran Mérida, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi

Levante match selection:
Goalkeepers: Munúa, Keylor Navas
Defenders: Navarro, Juanfran, Venta, Ballesteros, Pedro López, Cabral
Midfielders: Farinós, Barkero, Iborra, Botelho, Xavi Torres, Valdo, El Zhar
Forwards: Koné, Rubén, Ghezzal

Referee: Iglesias Villanueva

Head on over to the AtléticoFans Prediction League to give us your prediction for Levante vs. Atlético.

  • starvs

    Humongous game, must show up and win if we want to make a real run at CL. If we make CL we can def keep Diego and Falcao and even add one more solid piece and have a very good team next year.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Damn!, Rayo Vallecano trashed Osasuna 6 nil, very surprising result. It’s now or never for Atleti to climb positions in the table.
    All of our players managed to play, Joel kept a clean sheet, Pulido returned to the starting XI after being dropped in the last 2 matches. Diego Costa scored a goal and gave an assist, but the most bright moment in my opinion was the inclusion of Dani Pacheco. He managed to play 30 minutes after coming in for Emiliano Armenteros. That’s very good news for Pacheco who’s a very promising player but unfortunately he spend most of the season injured, but it’s great to see him play again. Hope he starts getting more playing time because he really is a good player.

  • We have ti win this match!!!! But bear in mind levante are no easy team.
    Aupa Atleti!!!!

  • ratchet

    lets get back on track for CL. A win tomorrow would put us 2 points away. Also, Valencia would be only 3 points above us as they will probz lose to real. If malaga slip up we have a chance to reach 3rd as well. That would be good.

  • Dylanowy

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  • A great chance 4 us to close the gap at the top 4. If we take the chance with Osasuna and Espanyol lost and drew respectively and if we beat Levente we wil move up to 5th wit just 2 point behind Malaga

  • Sinan

    Ther is just no way we can lose against Levante, we have much more quality then them.

  • Imran

    I think it will be a tight game but we can win against Levante its our chance to go for CL league

  • ratchet

    @ Sinan, anyone can lose to anyone, if we can lose to Real Zaragoza we can lose to Levante. However I dont think we will, I think we will edge it as on paper we are the better side.

  • shlomgar

    3-1 plz… I’ve become very fond of this result. It’s no clean sheet but it marks superiority. We will be a big player in CL run if we win today. We can and will do it, I believe.

    Tnx Javi Lozoya. I was about to ask about Pacheco and why isn’t he playing. For some weeks I’m worried about Rayo using our players to overtake us in La Liga. Yesterday match proved Otherwise. They are a strong team now and should be watched but Rayo is giving our players what we couldn’t, and by that making them and our club better. We must grab this year’s opportunities, EL, CL, El derby. This week is crucial. Aupa Atleti!!

  • leika

    oh no
    very bad start

  • ratchet

    1-0 Levente, lets fight back

  • leika

    bye CL

  • ratchet

    2-0 game over

  • leika

    we should at least score one in the first half

  • ratchet

    still no goal, CL is over

  • ratchet

    HT. Whata load of fucking shit this is turning out to be. If we lose this our season could be very poor

  • ratchet

    we are awful away from home. So bad its unbelievable. This has been a terrible season and now we are a mid-table side.

  • FancyFartPants

    i know we always hope we win, but come on we play away, you cannot expect always a win, levante is frikkin good and play home, it is not a surprise

  • ratchet

    miranda’s off, i have given up on this game so that can be a good thing. Dominguez should play against Real, at least he can actually defend.

  • Lubo

    Our predictably unpredictable form keeps on. How the fuck is it possible to play a good match in Hannover and then this type of shiat today?
    And Cholo is an idiot in my eyes for letting Miranda play match after match, even if he’s always the weakest player in our starting eleven. At least that motha’ will be in the crowd on wednesday and Álvaro can play. Fuck it, it’s Levante who deserves to play Champions League, definitely not us.