Falling behind early is something Atlético Madrid has been used to in recent games. Atleti have conceded goals in the opening stages in each of their last five matches. Nothing seems to have changed, as it took Levante just two minutes to take the lead on the way to an eventual 2-0 victory in Levante today.
Former-Atlético Madrid B defender Nano was able to head the ball into the back of the net when he found himself entirely free inside the box after Atlético had failed to clear a corner.
Last season Quique Sánchez Flores spent a lot of time improving our defending from set pieces, but this week we’ve gone back to making the same mistakes again, conceding three goals from corner kicks just this week.
The early goal didn’t serve as a wake-up call, because the first part of this match was all Levante’s. Ballesteros volleyed wide from another corner, while Perea had to slide in with a last ditch tackle to prevent Caicedo from making it two.
In the 25th minute Atlético was fortunate not to concede again, when Rubén Suárez brought a save from David de Gea at close range. Xisco easily left Antonio López behind and then handed Rubén the ball on a golden platter, but De Gea unwittingly made the stop.
Atlético wasn’t able to come back at Levante with anything. In the first 45 minutes we didn’t register a single shot on goal, and only responded with rough and unnecessary challenges in midfield. Paulo Assunção, Tomas Ujfalusi and Luis Perea all went into the referee’s book, and to underline our performance, the former was subbed off after just half an hour.
In added time of the first half Atlético finally threatened Levante’s goal. Goalkeeper Manuel Reina spilled a freekick, but Antonio López’ rebound was blocked. The ball then fell for Forlán, but Reina had returned to his goalline to stop our first attempt on goal.
A turn around after the break was expected, but without a Quique speech at half time – the coach sits out a two match suspension – the team looked just as uninspired in the second half as they did in the first.
In the 49th minute striker Caicedo was given an opportunity, when Godín missed his interception from a cross. But Caicedo, from a tight angle, couldn’t beat De Gea.
Five minutes later Juanlu was allowed all the space and time to cut inside and shoot, but the winger curled it wide off the post.
Another five minutes later he had more success though. Juanlu reached Caicedo as Atleti’s backline was stretched apart and with Godín nowhere to be seen, the Ecuadorian striker beautifully lobbed De Gea to double Levante’s lead.
Atlético reacted with the best chances for our Argentine wonderkid. Agüero tested Reina with two powerless efforts, while Forlán wasn’t able to direct a volley towards the goal.
Assistant coach Fran Escriba’s decision to bring on Diego Costa and Fran Mérida didn’t have an effect, as we went through the final half hour of the match without creating a single opportunity.
We were fortunate that Rafa Jordá wasn’t able to convert the two chances he was given to increase the lead for the home team.
Not long ago Enrique Cerezo and Sánchez Flores said Atlético would be in the top 4 of la Liga at the end of December, but a Champions League ticket seems even further away with today’s 2-0 loss.
Line-up: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Godín (“83 Fran Mérida), López; Reyes, Assunção (“31 Mario), Raúl García, Simão (“80 Diego Costa); Forlán and Agüero.
Goals: 1-0 Nano (“3); 2-0 Caicedo (“59)