Barcelona and Real Madrid May Rule La Liga, but Levante Occupies the Top Spot

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Barcelona and Real Madrid May Rule La Liga, but Levante Occupies the Top Spot
David Ramos/Getty Images

With all the "Occupy" protests going on worldwide against the wealthiest 1 percent, it's fitting to see Levante UD occupy the top spot of La Liga.

Having already beaten Real Madrid 1-0 earlier in the season, the Granotes (Frogs) are now in first place after throttling Giuseppe Rossi's club Villarreal 3-0 on Sunday. Sunday's win marked the sixth consecutive match the 6-2-0 undefeated club from Valencia has won. During their streak, they've outscored their oppositions 13-2.

Managed by Juan Ignacio Martinez, the Granotes are one of the best defensive clubs in La Liga. 

While Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the wealthiest clubs in the world, Levante is the poorest in La Liga. While Barcelona and Real Madrid have young superstars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two of the best players in the planet, Levante has 36-year-old defender Sergio Ballesteros leading the way for the poorest and oldest average age (32 years old) team playing in La Liga today. 

Financially, they're barely making ends meet. In layman's terms, they're broke. During their 2008-2009 second-division campaign, their players announced that they would strike during their last match of the season against Real Madrid.

Had it not been for league's intervention of having a benefit match between Levante and a team made up of first-division players where the proceeds went to cover the wages of the Levante's players, who knows how this would have affected the club. 

Like many clubs worldwide, Levante UD has a colorful history of their own. Founded in 1909, they were originally known as Levante Futbol Club. Named after the "Levante" beach in Malvarrosa, Levante was one of the founding clubs in Valencia. 

During the Spanish Civil War, Levante FC and Gimnástico Club de Fútbol merged in 1939. During the Civil War, Levante's pitch was destroyed. Even though Gimnastico had a pitch, they had lost most of their players. 

As a result, the two clubs merged in 1939 to become Unión Deportiva Levante-Gimnástico. Two years later to the merged clubs renamed themselves the Levante Unión Deportiva, where the current club colors also dates from this era. The blue and scarlet home colours were originally those of Gimnástico, while the black and white away kit was also used by Levante FC in the beginning.

While it is more likely that Levante will not win La Liga, it is fantastic to see that the club where Johan Cruyff played half a season is momentarily the best club in La Liga. 

While clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid will continue and rightfully so win championships, it's refreshing to see an underdog occupy the top spot. A team like Levante serves as a remainder of why we love soccer and the underdog stories within the beautiful game.

 

La Liga Standings as of Monday,October 24, 2011

1. Levante U.D. (6-2-0, 20 pts); 2. Real Madrid (6-1-1, 19 pts); 3. Barcelona (5-3-0, 18 pts); 4. Sevilla FC, (4-4-0, 16 pts); 5. Valencia (4-3-1, 15 pts); 6. Malaga (4-1-3, 13 pts); 7. Real Betis (4-0-4, 12 pts); 8. Espanyol (4-0-4, 12 pts); 9. Atletico Madrid (2-4-2, 10 pts); 10. Osasuna (2-4-2, 10 pts); 11. Athletic Bilbao (2-3-2, 9 pts); 12. Mallorca (2-3-3, 9 pts); 13. Rayo Vallecano (2-3-3, 9 pts); 14. Real Zaragoza (2-3-3, 9 pts); 15. Real Sociedad (2-2-4, 8 pts); 16. Villarreal (1-4-3, 7 pts); 17. Getafe (1-3-4, 6 pts); 18. Granada (1-2-5, 5 pts); 19. Sporting Gijon (1-1-6, 4 pts); 20. Racing Santander (0-4-4, 4 pts)

 

Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press &USSoccerPlayers.com; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at cesar@latinosports.com and at Twitter at@CoveringSoccer.

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