Levante Wins in Their Quest for a UEFA Champions League Berth
Just because Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two superior clubs in La Liga doesn't mean that the other 18 clubs aren't fighting to achieve their dreams.
While the expectations of Barcelona and Real Madrid reaching the UEFA Champions League finals this year were extinguished earlier last week, Levante's quest for next year's Champions League berth remains alive. Playing at home at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, Levante needed to earn three points in order to remain in contention for La Liga's fourth place.
A fourth-place finish would ensure the club from Valencia, which is affectionately nicknamed the Granotes (Frogs), a ticket to the Champions League. After a scoreless first half, Levante's trio of Arouna Kone, Xavi Torres and Valdo second-half goals was enough to defeat Granada FC 3-1 on Saturday.
Along with keeping their Champions League dream alive, Levante were able to exorcise their three-match winless streak. While the score may indicate that it was a convincing win for the Granotes, the reality is that Granada would not go away quietly.
After Kone gave Levante a 1-0 lead in the 46th minute, Granada's Odion Ighalo was able to level the match 1-1. While it appeared that Granada may steal a win, Xavi Torres scored the game-winner five minutes later to restore Levante's lead 2-1.
Then, in the 84th minute, Valdo's goal past Granada's goalkeeper Julio Cesar secured the win for the club from Valencia.
With three matches remaining, Levante trails Valencia and Malaga by three points for La Liga's third and fourth spots. While La Liga's first two spots are already covered by Real Madrid and Barcelona, Levante need to win their final three matches against Zaragoza, Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao in order to have a legitimate chance of finishing their season in either third or fourth place.
In doing so, they have to back-to-back road games before closing out their season at home against Athletic Bilbao. They're also going to need Valencia and Malaga to lose/tie their next few contests.
The reality of winning La Liga anytime may be out of reach for Levante, but their chances of reaching the UEFA Champions League are within grasp. Can the club from Valencia managed by Juan Ignacio Martinez do it?
Cesar Diaz is a freelance writer for several online soccer publications. If there’s a soccer topic you believe needs to be written about, please feel free to contact him. Easily approachable, you may contact him at CDiazNYC@gmail.com and @CesarDiazNYC.
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