La Liga: Levante 2 – 1 Atlético

Bottom-side Levante beat tired Atleti to end championship hopes

Torres misses a chance for Atlético

Torres misses a chance for Atlético

An early Fernando Torres goal wasn’t enough for Atlético Madrid as they lost 2-1 to bottom-side Levante in Valencia on Sunday evening, ending their faint title hopes.

Levante fought back and grabbed a last minute winner through Giuseppe Rossi to make sure Atleti are unable to catch Barcelona at the top of La Liga, and slip into third after Real Madrid’s win.

It wasn’t long before Atlético took the lead against already-relegated Levante. After only 80 seconds of the game, Fernando Torres had the ball in the back of the Levante net after a delightful finish.

Who set El Niño up? Of course, that man Koke. It’s a combination that Atlético’s have seen produce a number of goals this season, and this afternoon it gave Fernando Torres his 10th goal in this season’s La Liga.

A through ball from Koke set Torres up to chip the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper to put Atleti one up against the league’s bottom side.

It was Koke’s 14th assist this season, setting a record for a single Atlético player this centry.

Fernando Torres almost had a second a few minutes later were it not for a fantastic last-ditch interception from Levante’s Juanfran after Torres had nutmegged David Navarro. Our number 9 certainly looked up for the game, given what was at stake in games elsewhere.

With the other two sides at the top of La Liga winning 1-0, Levante hit back at Atlético with a fantastic header on the half-hour mark. Casadesus fired home a bullet-header after some great work on the wing from Cuero. The header was too fast for Oblak, who could only swipe at air as it raced past him. 1-1.

Koke provided Torres with a good chance to have a shot at the Levante goal with the last chance of the half, but the ball struck Torres’ shin and went well wide of the goal.

Diego Simeone, through German Burgós, made a statement at half-time. The suspended Argentinean brought off both Augusto Fernández and Ángel Correa at the break, replacing them with Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco.

The two had originally been rested ahead of two huge matches against Celta and Real Madrid, but level half-way through the game, it was time for action.

Fernando Torres remained on the pitch, despite the introduction of two more attacking threats. David Navarro gave the striker something to remember him by with a deliberate elbow to the back of Torres’ head, forcing El Niño off of the pitch whilst he stemmed the flow of blood.

Savic came close to restoring Atleti’s lead following a Gabi corner, but the central defender’s flicked effort bounced just wide of the Levante goal.

Miralles had the chance to make it 2-1 to the home side just after the hour mark, but couldn’t steer his header past Oblak after a great ball forward from Casadesus.

Casadesus was then brought down inches outside of the Atlético area by José Giménez. Very close to a penalty, but the referee pointed for a free-kick and booked the young Uruguayan defender.

Looking to inject some life into the Atlético players, Gabi was brought off to be replaced by Thomas Partey.

The substitutes combined to set up a dangerous chance for Atlético. Carrasco stripped Levante of the ball and ran at the defenders. The Belgian set up Griezmann but the goalkeeper Diego Mariño pulled off a fantastic save with one-hand to deny the Frenchman.

Fernando Torres fired a shot at Levante after Juanfran robbed his namesake, but it was another good save from the Levante goalkeeper.

Atleti seemed to wake up, and this time it was Yannick Carrasco who fired a strike wide of the home side’s goal. The goal just didn’t seem to want to come.

With a minute left of the 90, Atleti were caught on the counter-attack and the substitute Giuseppe Rossi snatched a late winner to hand Levante all three points, and end Atlético’s title-hopes.

With Barcelona securing a 5-0 win over Espanyol, they are three points clear of Atleti with a better head-to-head.

Real Madrid take over from Atleti in second place, after beating Valencia 3-2 at the Bernabeu.

It’s a disappointing end to Atleti’s league campaign, but there’s one more final on the horizon at the end of May.

Levante Atlético Madrid
Levante 21 Atlético Madrid
Competition Liga BBVA
Location Ciutat de València
Date 08 May 2016
Kick Off 17:00 CEST
  • Palantine

    Aúpa Atleti, Let’s win UCL!!!

  • Ringo

    It sucks, but it’s okay. I don’t really understand why Correa was taken off, but oh well.
    Chances on the title were slim already and now the next game could be used as an exhibition game for the CL final.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    What Atleti did this season is much more than what I expected or asked for after the many changes in the team and with the many young players we have, however, I still stick to what I’ve been saying all the season, and this is not because we lost, I just said two days ago that I don’t want to see Gabi, Augusto, Koke & Saul against small teams (today we played against the smallest of them), two of those four are enough .
    We lack creativity, obviously ! especially when the opponent gives us the ball and we can’t play our counter-attacking game .
    I stick to what I have been saying about Oliver, Correa, Saul & Carrasco , which in short :
    Oliver & Correa deserve much more time, they are the most creative players in our team .
    Carrasco is a good dribbler, good sprinter, but an ordinary player .
    Saul is “Jack of all trades, master of none”, in most of the games, when he doesn’t score he doesn’t offer anything else .

    I know that nobody agrees with me about Carrasco, because of his “contribution”, and I will be called stupid, crazy or worse for my opinion about Saul, because the whole world considers him a superstar, but praising is easy, it’s fun, while criticism is difficult .

    And Cholo, four things :
    1- Thank you for an amazing season, despite the difficult circumstances, and regardless the way we have been playing .
    2- We really can’t afford missing you 3 games or more every season, please stop getting suspended .
    3- What the fuck happened to “partido a partido” which even became few days ago “final a final” ?!
    4- Please bring us that Champions League title we have been waiting for decades .

  • Shlomo

    I agree with you on Carrasco. He is very skillful and a fantastic dribbler, but he makes poor decisions and a lot of times chooses to dribble, instead of making a simple pass. I could not agree less on Saul, who may not be very creative, but contributes a lot in both the defensive and offensive aspects of the game. I do also agree very much on Oliver. We need Oliver, because now, if Griezmann and Koke don’t win the game for us, no one else does.
    I think a lot of players will still leave us in the future, even though we have made an amazing progress under Simeone. Our club’s name is not big enough because we do not get much exposure from the media, and we can’t afford to pay them the money they will get in the Premier League or the paychecks they will get if they play for our 2 domestic rivals. But in my opinion, the 3 players we MUST do our best to keep are : Koke, Oliver and Lucas Hernandez! On the rest of them we will get over, somehow we always do.

  • AndersAT

    I agree that this line-up is way to much “battle” and to little finesse. We need a better plan against smaller sides. Correa and Oliver could be good, I also think carrasco brings a lot but perhaps we need someone more established. I am looking forward to following David Silvas situation in Man City when pep takes over. Not a real Simeone man though.

    Looking forward to the final now. I have a good feeling.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Saul offensive contribution is manly the goals he scores, since he is not very creative as you said .
    Goals are great, obviously, but his goals are “occasional”, he didn’t score 17 goals like Raul Garcia in 2013/14, he only scored 9, so the really big, difficult and important question is :
    If Saul was really not so creative, are 9 goals enough to make him a starter if Gabi, Koke & Augusto will keep their starting spots too ?!

    While defensively, I think it is very obvious that Saul is not at the same level as Gabi, Tiago or Augusto .

  • Shlomo

    1. Saul, unlike Gabi and Augusto, is more versatile and can play in an attacking role when needed ( though he is not as good as other players there ).
    2. He is the best tackler out of all our midfielders ( WhoScored ), and he does all that, while also making attacking runs into the box, like Koke, and unlike Gabi and Augusto. I think that in games against the strong teams, we need players like Carrasco to launch our counter-attacks. But when we play against weaker teams who come to defend and destroy space, a midfielder who comes behind to support the attack is very useful.
    3. He also assisted 4 goals this season, and the goals he scored and assisted are usually very important.

    But he is a very energetic player, he works hard and he is very versatile. He can play practically in every role in the midfield. He is great in the air, he is a very tough player, he is smart and he can stop the rival’s balls, all that with a fantastic finish and great movement into dead spaces. He does have weak spots, like his passing, and Gabi and Tiago are defensively better than him for sure. He is not as important as Gabi or Tiago, and Koke is better than him in every aspect of the game, but saul is a magnificent player.

  • Ringo

    Saúl is visibly improving, though. I don’t really look at statistics but I wouldn’t be surprised if his successful passing rate has risen the past months. His defending is already pretty solid, but he’s still young and quite inexperienced. His game as CB (against Eibar I believe) was pretty solid outside of that one mistouch.
    The three you named weren’t as good defensively at Saúl’s age as he is, I think, too, so he’s on the right track.

    Offensively my main complaints were his bad dribbles and his below par passing, but those two are not as bad any more (even if ignoring the abnormal goal against Bayern).

    I don’t really agree about Carrasco, he does have something. But at the moment I feel his dribbling is best in counter attacks, while Correa doesn’t rely as much on the attack being a counter, since his dribbling skill are of a higher variety, even if they aren’t at Carrasco’s level yet (which is debatable imo). Really think they should have waited with Carrasco and played Correa in offensive midfield. Carrasco could have been the player instead of Thomas, I guess, but taking off Correa with his skillset seemed like a big mistake to me.

    I mean, mistakes happen, but against a team going all out defense I wasn’t surprised at us struggling after the 1-1. I’m not mad and perhaps we would still have lost, but I feel like chances at a win could have been higher. Against such defenses Oli would have been useful, too, but he needs to be reintegrated into the team, I think, in some way or another.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I really don’t like WhoScored, they make football looks very complicated, and it’s not, they rate players according to numbers only, which is very redicolus .
    I just took a look there, Saul tackles are 3.1 (this is per game I assume ?!), while Gabi and Koke are 2.9, not too far away .
    And I really don’t know what they mean by tackles, all tackles or successful ones or what ?!
    WhoScored also have statistics for interceptions, blocks, clearances, and our other midfielders are better than Saul in most of those, why did you just pick tackles ?!
    Again, it’s not that complicated, I think it’s very obvious that Gabi & Augusto are defensively better than Saul, that’s why they play in the middle while he plays upfront, but if you must compare numbers then I think the most important one when talking defensively is ball recovery, winning the ball back, killing an attack for the opponent and starting one for us, and in this category, according to AS, Gabi is the 29th player in La Liga, Saul is 71st .
    Another very important category for a midfielder is the passing, and Gabi is the 8th player in La Liga with more successful passes, while Saul doesn’t even appear in the list which include 80 players (also is AS) .

    Saul is versatile, the whole world knows that now, but actually this is a problem for me, as long as he is not very great in any particular position, “Jack of all trades, master of none” .
    He is not as good as Gabi as a DM .
    He is not as creative as Koke or Oliver .
    He is not a good dribbler like Correa or Carrasco .
    So what is he ?!! really, I don’t know what Saul is .

    I will make this very simple :
    We are expected to sign an attacking midfielder or a winger next season, maybe both, let’s say we will sign Gaitan & Reus, and a striker of course, let’s say it’s Cavani, who would be the 6 that will make the starting XI with the GK and the back 4 ?!
    Gabi, Koke, Reus, Gaitan, Grizi, Cavani .
    Can you really say that Saul is better than any of those in their respective positions ?!!
    I don’t even think he is better than Correa, Oliver, Augusto or Tiago in their respective positions, I think he is only better than Carrasco, although he is not as skillful as him, but he is much more effective .

    I’m not against Saul, I don’t hate him, and I never said he is not a good player, I said that about Carrasco .
    My problem about Saul is that he needs to figure out his position, actually, Simeone is the one who needs to figure that out, but the problem is that he “trusts” him (he made me hate that word) so he will play him no matter how many other midfielders are there on the pitch, 2 or 3 or even 4, and I don’t think that is working out, it could work out against Real, Barca & Bayern, but we all have seen how did it work out against Gijon, Levante, Astana, and the home games against Villarreal & Sevilla, and in many of the games where we suffered a lot to win 1-0 against very small teams .

  • Kris

    Saul is a box-to-box midfielder. I thought this was obvious by now with his energy and instinct for goals? Don’t complicate this too much, Ahmad. Saul is not a good passer but he can bring the ball forward. He’s not the best defensively, but he can contribute significantly in defense because he’s strong, fast, and is always tracking back. Because he can bring the ball forward and is able to make great runs for goals and is able to track back for defense faster than other players, with his energy he is definitely a natural box-to-box midfielder. Who plays when and where is ultimately Simeone’s choice, and I believe he’s making harmful choices by playing with four central midfielders who dont have much in their creativity bag every game.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Few days ago someone asked me about Saul, and I posted a long reply, I don’t know if you read it or not, but at the end of it I did say that he should be a box-to-box midfielder, I even also used the term : “goal instinct” .
    But I have never seen a box-to-box midfielder playing with so many other midfielders, including Koke, who also could be considered in some way a box-to-box midfielder . And as far as I know, there should be only one box-to-box midfielder on the pitch .
    I’m not the one who is complicating this, it’s Cholo, I have never seen anybody else playing with one winger, it’s always two, a right-footed one on the left, and a left-footed one on the right, unless he considers Saul a winger .
    Again, he is the one who is complicating things and confusing me, or maybe I’m just stupid !

    I wish there were statistics for Carrasco’s off the target shots, his crosses that reaches nobody or his embarrassingly failed dribbles .
    Salah is almost at the same age, and he is in similar circumstances, his first season with Roma, and his first full season in Serie A, but look at what he is doing . I can say the same about Mahrez . I can say the same about Correa, although he is not a winger, but he is not a main striker either, but look how many goals he scored and how many assists he made in much less minutes, he makes runs and dribbles like Carrasco, but he actually makes something of them .
    At the beginning of the season many other people said that Carrasco needs to work on his “finish product”, but it didn’t improve, in fact, it became worse, but they stopped talking about that, maybe because as I said : criticism is difficult and not cool !
    I’m actually not asking Carrasco for goals and assists, I just want to see more shots on target and less shots to the stands, like that one in the last minutes at San Mames .
    He almost fucked up in the ass against Bayern in the last minute when he started a counter, Thomas & Torres made a run for it, then he just gave the ball back to Bayern with a stupid pass, and left us in a 10 against 7 situation . A good winger just doesn’t do that .

    And this has absolutely nothing to do with Oliver, in fact, I blame Oliver for this, I know Simeone wasn’t too fair with him and wasn’t so patient with him as he was with other players, but he did get his chance and he could have done better .

    I would never sell Saul or Oliver, I would never replace Gabi with Yaya Toure (the good version of him) but if Reus decided to leave BVB and we could afford his price, would I replace Carrasco with him ?! fuck yeah .

  • Usavicente Calderon

    The loss so annoying, right? Well here are my 3 reasons why this loss to Levante is a good thing:
    1) Is Barcelona really going to lose a game over the next two weeks? No, they got their mojo back a week after we beat them.
    2) We have 20 days to rest our starters and only concentrate on beating Real Madrid.
    3) The loss was a wake up call to the players. Winning the UCL is not automatic. We don’t deserve anything. This mindset will get us hungry for victory.
    Bonus) Fernando Torres scored. This will boost his confidence. In both UCL games he missed two goals he thinks he should have made.
    !!!AUPA ATLETI!!!