In what was undoubtedly the most thrilling match of the week, Real Madrid were forced to share the spoils with Levante, the lesser renowned of Valencia’s two major clubs. To add to the six goal spectacle, fans at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia also witnessed an outfield player being forced to play as a goalkeeper, as well as Gareth Bale’s first league goal since 2019.
It was the Welshman who opened the scoring after just five minutes, converting an opportunity that came from Karim Benzema’s pass, but after just 28 seconds into the restart, Roger Marti levelled to make it 1-1. It was the Valencian underdogs who then pushed on to go 2-1 up with a volley from José Campania, but Vinicius made it 2-2 with a 73rd minute goal.
Levante kept going, and were rewarded by taking the lead again with a smooth finish from Robert Pier before Vinicius made it 3-3. Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez was shown a red card for handling the ball outside the 18 yard box to prevent Rodrigo from running past him. As Levante had already used all thier subs, defender Ruben Vezo had to put on a pair of gloves and become the makeshift goalie. Luckily for him, he barely had any work to do and the game finished 3-3.
Also on Sunday, champions Atletico Madrid defeated Elche by 1-0 whilst Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw by Athletic Bilbao.
It is already feeling like a strange Spanish football season with no team in particular looking as if they have the right tools in the box to dominate.
Although Real Madrid are the bookies’ favourites, it is no secret that their current crop of players lack the gravitas of those famous Real sides known for winning UEFA Champions League titles.
Barcelona’s financial woes, combined with the loss of Lionel Messi, leaves them with a mediocre side by their usual standards, not helped by the fact that Sergio Aguero, the man they probably signed to replace Messi, is still sitting on the sidelines after having picked up a long term injury before the season began.
Atletico Madrid will be hoping, once again, to capitalise on the weaknesses of their rivals, but Luis Suarez is a year older now, and at an age where sharp declines in pace and stamina can start to kick in. Whether he can lead them to a consecutive title or not will only be known in the spring of 2022.
All of Spain’s ‘big three’ have an Achilles heel this season that other clubs may find ways to exploit. Could now be the right time to put a cheeky bet on Sevilla?
La Liga Results
Sunday 22 August
Atlético Madrid 1 Elche 0
Levante 3 Real Madrid 3
Real Sociedad 1 Rayo Vallecano 0
Saturday 21 August
Athletic Bilbao 1 Barcelona 1
Granada 1 Valencia 1
Alaves 0 Mallorca 1
Espanyol 0 Villarreal 0
Friday 20 August
Real Betis 1 Cadiz 1