The 2012-2013 La Liga BBVA has started with a 1-1 draw for Atlético Madrid.
In Valencia the Colchoneros rallied back from behind to share the points with Levante.
In the absence of Juanfran and Filipe, Simeone was forced to switch to a 3-4-3 formation in which Sílvio and newly signed Cristian Rodríguez featured on the wings. In the heart of our 3-man defence Cata Díaz also debuted.
Levante came out with all guns blazing, overrunning their visitors in the opening minutes. From the first corner kick they earned, Levante immediately scored as Nabil El Zhar struck from the edge of the box. Atleti failed to clear the ball and the ball fell exactly before the Moroccan, who slotted the ball into the back of the net with his left foot.
After the early shock, Atlético regained their composure and took over control. Tiago almost equalized, but the Portuguese midfielder’s header was off target.
In the 22nd minute Arda Turan did tie the score with a fantastic strike from over 20 meters out. Arda, who seems to have taken over Diego’s reigns as playmaker of the team, feigned two shots before launching a powerful strike which left Levante ‘keeper Munúa without a chance.
If his goal is a sign of things to come then there’s a lot we can expect from the Turkish 10 this season.
The Rojiblancos dominated possession and looked to beat Levante down the left, where Arda and Cristian Rodríguez made a strong impression. In the final minutes of the first half the home side crawled out of their shell and claimed a number of corners, which were easily dealt with by Atleti.
Levante were unfortunate not to take the lead again when Ibarra terrorized the crossbar with a shot from distance. The midfielder hammered the ball towards goal, but saw his attempt smash against the crossbar before going behind for a goal kick.
The second half saw more of the same, with Atlético struggling to profit from their dominance in possession, while Levante hoped to score from set pieces.
After an hour of play the disappointing Adrián was replaced by Oliver Torres. The promising youngster has been one of the highlights of Atleti’s pre-season and made his official first team debut. At seventeen, there have been only 7 canteranos younger than Oli to make an appearance for Atlético.
Simeone brought on Kader to provide a spark from the right wing and the youngster instantly delivered with a good cross to Falcao. The Colombian was brought down from behind and unable to reach to the cross, but referee Clos Gómez ignored his penalty claim and waived to play on.
Munúa did well to deny Kader by blocking his free kick attempt.
And so our first league match of the season – which started on Sunday and finished on Monday morning – ended in a disappointing draw. Next week Atleti will look to gain their first three points at home in a repeat of the Europa League final, when we host Athletic Club at the Vicente Calderón.
Line-up: Courtois; Sílvio (“75 Kader), Miranda, Godín, Cata Díaz, Rodríguez; Tiago, Gabi (“83 Raúl García); Adrián (“64 Oliver Torres), Arda and Falcao.
Goals: 1-0 El Zhar (“5); 1-1 Arda (“22)