Match preview: Levante vs. Atlético

Hunt for title continues as Atleti after 10th consecutive league win at Levante

A win at Levante sets up 'final' against Málaga

A win at Levante sets up 'final' against Málaga

For the second straight Sunday, Atlético take their act to Valencia.

This time, the league leaders and fresh Champions League finalists will square off against Levante at the Ciutat de València at 17:00 CET–a bout that has the chance to serve as a semifinal of sorts for los Rojiblancos.

A win against their opponents on this match day would leave Atleti one victory away from lifting the Primera División trophy, with Málaga set to visit the Vicente Calderón next weekend.

On the other hand, the hosts, on the surface, have nothing but pride to play for.

But, as usual this time of year in Spain, rumours of maletines (briefcases full of cash) abound, and one can only be left to wonder how much Florentino Pérez is offering Les Granotes to spoil Atleti’s run for their first La Liga title since 1996.

“If we have to fuck up the league for them, we’ll try to do it,” Levante midfielder Rubén García brashly told reporters on Friday, before pretty much confirming suspicions of a cash incentive.

“So there will be a financial gift it seems, right?” Rubén said.

“If there is one and it’s because of a win, why not?”

Los Colchoneros come into this affair on the high of having dispatched Chelsea in London on Wednesday to qualify for their first Champions League final since 1974.

While these are fast times for our men in red and white, Levante have struggled of late–failing to win a single match in all of April, though they are virtually assured a place in Spain’s top flight next season.

The Ciutat de València hasn’t been too kind to Atlético in recent years, with the capital outfit only taking one of nine points up for grabs in their last three trips there.

“This will be a very tough game against a team that works really well defensively,” boss man Diego Simeone warned ahead of Sunday’s clash.

Atleti narrowly edged out Levante 3-2 at the Calderón with a Costa penalty right before last Christmas.

“They put together highly competitive games. It took us a lot [to beat them] in the first round. That’s why we imagine a match with these characteristics, where we’ll have to play an encounter with a great deal of intensity.

“I’m certain Levante will be a competitive side, a team that we have a lot of respect for that will demand so much from us.”

Of the reports that up to 9,000 members of the Rojiblanco faithful will accompany the team in Valencia, ‘Cholo’ said: “That would be fantastic. Hopefully the fans can understand the importance of this moment in La Liga and I invite them all to come and support us, take part and be here. Hopefully there will be a lot of Atlético Madrid fans in the stadium tomorrow.”

One Rojiblanco that won’t be in action — though he will be in attendance — is Juanfran, who was shown a straight red for a reckless challenge late into our triumph over Valencia last weekend.

Simeone is taking all 22 members of the squad on this trip, as the Argentine tactician wants the squad to be united in these crucial moments of the campaign.

Toby Alderweireld is the likely replacement for our starting right-back, though there’s a chance Simeone may go with the now recovered and lucky-to-still-be-alive Javi Manquillo.

“We’re analysing the situation,” Cholo said.

“We’ll decide tomorrow because they have different characteristics. Toby is very good at set pieces, but Manquillo is much faster and younger.”

Should Simeone go with Toby, it would be the Belgian’s first start as a fullback with Atleti–though he serves as the starting right-back for the Belgian national team.

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luís, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Giménez, Juanfran, Insua, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl (the real one, not that other guy), Arda, Cebolla, Gabi, Diego, Sosa
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Costa

Levante match selection:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Javi Jiménez
Defenders: Navarro, Rodas, Vyntra, Juanfran, Nikos, Pedro López
Midfielders: Víctor, Rubén, Xumetra, Sergio, Ivanschitz, Sissoko, Diop, Simao
Forwards: Barral, Ángel


  • Ahmad Hossainy

    We haven’t won in Ciutat de València in La Liga since 2007, when we won 1-0 by Forlan
    Losing once and drawing twice in the last 3 games, and in each of them we conceded a goal in the first 5 minutes
    Levante have the 5th strongest defense in La Liga (best defense out of the top 4)
    conceding 42 goals, only 16 of them were at home
    and finally, they are the team that the great Falcao couldn’t score any goal against them

    But fuck statistics and records, this season Simeone and his men are breaking them for fun !

    if it was England, Germany or Italy, Rubén García would have been punished for his statement even if he was joking .. but this is Spain

    but like when Mourinho tried to prevent Courtois from playing then he was the one who played without his first GK, maybe Real Madrid will offer Levante maletínes then they lose against Valencia .. for free !

    I would start with Toby as a RB, but I would also keep Manqui on the bench in case the things did not work out with the Belgian

    Welcome Back Martin

  • AaX

    Maybe it may be seemed as Paranoid, but it need to be communicated because it is out of experience. Be Wary of any possible ill-will match progress and officiation attempts from the enemy and opposition of the club that may influence conversely the outcome of the match. So Long we are aware of it in our subconscious and pray sincerely against it, THe Lord will do the Rest. This is nothing new to Atletico (Simeone is obviously aware of this) facing more than the normal and illegal Challenges but it is only Atletico that will Triumph over this by DIVINE Grace. So be Aware, Be Confident but DO Not Get Over-Confident, Prepare and Release Out yOUR Wish and Prayers. GOD WILLING, Aupa Atleti !! To Calderon.

  • Kris

    I knew I was reading an article by Martin (no, I didn’t read the authors name on the top at first), but welcome back. Crucial game at the Ciutat de Valencia tomorrow for Atleti, it’s one of those finals where you MUST pick up all the three points from. Forza Atleti!!

  • Farzad from Iran

    will we have juanfran??????

  • kris

    Juanfran is suspended, Farzad. He got a red card against Valencia last week………..

  • pantic#10

    Courtois
    Toby – Miranda – Godin – Filipe
    Koke – Gabi – Tiago – RG8
    Villa – Diego Costa

    that’s the starter 11.

  • colchonero in sf

    Guys,

    Dont want to jinx anything but have a strange feeling we might clinch title today in Valencia.

    Atleti beats levante.

    Valencia beats real. We will get drunk and miss work!!! I wouldnt know who to celebrate with as there arent many true colchoneros in California!!

    But im sorry, partido a partio. Lets get the W and see what happens.

    Btw, if toby doesnt start, it means simeone doesnt trust him and.therefore not good enough.

  • palestine-atletico

    Even if atleti win today and real lose we need to wait until next week coz barca will be 6 points away from us but we need a point vs malaga

  • colchonero in sf

    Btw- All you guys have been great. Kudos to Martin, Derek, Billy whom of which contributes regularly.

    Martin- perhaps you could give Sid Lowe a run for his money??

    And how can we forget our resident Colchonero doctor Ahmad who literally knows everything Atleti.

    Genuinely hope to be able to meet you guys at some stage!!

  • colchonero in sf

    Palestine- you are totally right. Sorry for mistake!!!!!

  • kris

    Sid Lowe is all bullshit. Martin writes real shit. :p

  • Brad

    So a comment from the BeIn sports desk before the game “approximately a quarter of the Ciutat de Valencia will be red and white”

  • kris

    Goal.. Levante…

  • colchonero in sf

    No!!!!!!!! Whats happened Filipe! Come on guys lets show why we have.the best mentality!

  • kris

    Filipe Luis own goal.. Seems that’s the only way to score against Courtois.. COME ON ATLETI!!!

  • EC

    F**K and just like that we need at least 2 goals

  • Atletico9

    No fucking offside! Come on guys. We was also down against Chelsea and Levante in the first game.

  • Brad

    for some reason Diego Costa draws a lot of suspect offside calls

  • EC

    good save from Navas followed by a terrible miss by Villa 🙁

  • kris

    Villla!!! WHAT A MISS!! WHAT A BALL THOUGH!!

  • Atletico9

    Both Raul and Villa should scorer!!!!

  • Atletico9

    Wtf ref! Noooo offside!!!!

  • Brad

    Come on refs…

  • kris

    Seems the refs have been paid by Real too… We shall overcome!!!

  • Brad

    I think in the spirit of European teams using completely random songs for chants, Atleti should adopt We Shall Overcome.

  • Will

    They are playing very well and we not.

  • kris

    Take Garcia off NOW!!! GODDAMN!!

  • kris

    And Brad, that seems pretty legit. lol

  • Brad

    The one time I wish there were timeouts…Simeone needs to get them fired up and no ammount of jumping and screaming from the touchline is going to actually get their attention.

  • palestine-atletico

    No no no no no no no noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo i cant imagine that we will not win guys plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • kris

    There’s over 50 minutes of play Palestine-Atleti, BELIEVE.

  • EC

    1-0 HT we’ve been very unlucky. hopefully a better 2nd half.

  • Will

    Awful so far.. To the second half.

  • palestine-atletico

    We are playing shittttt

  • kris

    All these haters waiting for us to collapse, we can’t let that happen. Vamos Atleti!!

  • Atletico9

    Come on! Fight for your life! Im so nervous. We believe in Cholo Simeone. Forza Atletiiiiii! 45 minutes to kill levente!

  • EC

    hopefully Turan comes on for Garcia. We never play well with Costa and Villa up front and Garcia on the wing

  • palestine-atletico

    Fuck u levante fuck u refree

  • Jeronamo

    Hmmmmmm… let’s see how this second half will go

  • Brad

    Now for el Cholo to give them a talking to in the dressing room so they come out and kick ass in the second half!

  • EC

    Please Valencia do not get beaten by Real tonight

  • palestine-atletico

    The problem is not in real it is in barcelona!!!!!!

  • Dircil

    Toby possesses such an amazing long pass! I think we can convert him from a CB to a CM or DM! He would be a beast!

  • Jeronamo

    I think playing turan and diego at the same time may be needed… koke has to be tired and rg8 isn’t working today. But here comes arda and adrian

  • Will

    I don’t think it’s a match for Adrián

  • Jeronamo

    I don’t think so either

  • Brad

    STAY ONSIDE

  • EC

    grrrrr. come on F**K Levante there so intent on stopping us from winning even tho there playing for nothing

  • EC

    we should have at least 1 goal now

  • Brad

    Well looks like Real is using their bank account to pay the refs

  • Ratchet

    We kind of need to win this game. I don’t want to sound pessimistuc, but I can’t see us winning the title at the Nou Camp is Barca are still in the running.

  • EC

    wtf that was never a foul

  • MR

    incredible decision to keep Tiago on for the whole match totally exhausted and booked

  • EC

    if Real win the league right at the end and beat us in the CL then this dream season will turn into a nightmare

  • EC

    my word another great chance. this isn’t going to be our day

  • EC

    terrible misses, own goals, great saves from Navas. last ditch blocks. you couldn’t make it up.

    this is torture

  • kris

    2-0.

  • Ratchet

    Well, now our title hopes are in ruins.

  • Brad

    Isn’t there are rule about the number of non-eu players you’re allowed to have on your team? I’m pretty sure Levante is breaking it.

  • kris

    Navas is too good….

  • Will

    They are playing very very well and deserve it.

  • Will

    Fuck Navas.. Perfect display today.

  • Brad

    They should have rolled over and conceded like the teams that play Real do…

  • EC

    fucking hell.

  • Will

    We go to Valencia to beat Valencia and can’t beat Levante. That’s ridiculous…

  • Will

    Its really not our day.. Even the post..

  • Brad

    We must be cursed…

  • kris

    This match is not meant to be won by Atleti. All the signs show it. Hopefully, there’s something bigger coming for us from all these signs…

  • EC

    this is a nightmare. even if Real screw up Barcelona will win the league if they beat us on the last day of the season then. Great

  • Ratchet

    If we somehow draw, the title is still in our hands.

  • Brad

    Based on our inability to hit an empty net I’d say that chance is slim to none

  • EC

    exactly, a draw would’ve helped us out big time and we can’t even manage that. the chances we’ve missed are terrible

  • Will

    Yes.. A draw would be awesome now..

  • kris

    I want us to fuck Levante so hard in the ass next season… Oh my,, I am so pissed… But this game just isn’t for us, it seems. But, it seems we are being prepared for something bigger. Man, the last week will be so hard for us because we’ll have a lot to play for in the Final against Real and the Final against Barca. Two biggest teams in the history and we’ll have to play against them both in the same week… OH MY GOD!!

  • EC

    absolutely devastated by this. Iam gonna be pissed all week because of this. There is gonna be so much pressure on us next weekend against a Malaga team battling to stay in La liga :/.

  • Will

    You guys know that probably Real Madrid is paying big money to Levante to play like this, right? They don’t have any reason to play like this besides Real Madrid’s money.

  • EC

    god why are the Levante fans so happy. yes you won but your not playing for anything. you have possibly helped Real/Barca to yet another la liga title though. you would think they would prefer someone to break the duopoly. I hope we fucking destroy them next season

  • Yon

    Hard way as always!

    Come on Valencia!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ratchet

    Absolute disaster.

  • Well Thats a massive blow to our title aspirations :/ We have to win our last two games, unless Real Shitid or Uefalona slip up. I am not complaining about the ref or the way levante played, We failed to put away our chances and we paid the price, which could be the la liga title 🙁 And now we Have to Beat relagation fighting Malaga and one of the most historic clubs Uefalona. It aint over till its over. Aupa Atleti!! <3

  • Brad

    Proof once again that “Football is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans”

  • EC

    we need Real Madrid to lose 1 of there last 4 I fear. even if that happens we have to beat Malaga and draw with Barca.

  • EC

    lets not forget we have the CL final swell though :). Even if we finished 3rd but managed to win the biggest trophy in European football it will be a tremendous season eclipsing both Real’s and Barca’s seasons.

  • Atletico9

    Oh my god! What a sad and terrible day. We have played an fantastic season and got a superb chance to take the titel at home next weekend – but we fail today and it will maybe cost us the title! Im so sad, i could cry for 18 more years if we dont win the next 2 games. Next game is without both Juanfran and Godin.

    My life is in ruins right now. Have no words.

  • Valinia

    this match is terrible n a total mess.. it seems like the players are all tired, they wanna come out n fight but they are completely exhausted 🙁 hopefully we will win the two games left after a well rested week.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    we still have our fate in our own hands, 2 wins to clinch the title
    difficult ?! .. of course, but who said wining La Liga is easy
    Aupa Atleti

  • Colchonero in SF

    I’m with Ahmad. Come on guys- With this win it would’ve been 10th win in a row. 9 in a row is an absolutely amazing result. we will have a full week to prepare to malaga.

    this is atleti- no one should be surprised. IN CHOLO WE TRUST

  • AaX

    Valencia almost won to drew 2-2 with Real Mrd. We are going for a win at Camp Nou but with this can still afford the draw. Keep in mind that Celta and Elche is gaining form and points. GOD Willing ! Victory To Calderon!