Skip to main content

Rival Watch: Levante. And Patrick Ebert's greatest performance. (26th April, 2017)

By the end of next weekend Rayo could still be mathematically in contention for relegation. By the end of next weekend Getafe could solidify their position in the playoff spots. 

But by the end of next weekend, Levante could be promoted to La Liga.

On the last day of the 2015-16 season, Levante were already down to La Segunda, down 2-0 at Vallekas, down partly due to bad luck, mostly due to mediocrity, down with an away record worse than even Sevilla - the only team that managed to do that - and, in the 31st minute, down a man with injury.

Than man, a man who warned he would cry if Levante went down, was 40-year-old captain Juanfran.
As he pulled out with a groin injury, he did cry. His final game in professional football was a game where his most sacred team were going down. Both sets of coaches and fans applauded, for that was the end of an era.

That was the image which Levante took with them. The only one.

That was the image Raimon took with him. The man who proudly assembles the flags that unfurl from the top of the main stand, had to take most of them down.

Rubi had been accused of playing too well, especially for a team that needed to avoid the drop. And Levante paid the price.



Pressing high up the pitch under the attacking philosophy of coach Juan Muñiz, opponents have barely got a whiff of the ball and Levante have been all over them.

Mind you, this is a team that lost their skipper in Juanfran (retired), their best midfielder in Víctor Camarasa, their best striker in Deyverson, their two goalkeepers in Rubén and Diego Mariño, and three other center backs.

Which just goes to show how hard work and a talented manager can do to a team whose fans chant “ugly, poor and bad at football" about their team.

Raimon did have to buy a whole new set of flags - but they’ll be confined to dust by next season.



Juan Muñiz was a former Rayo center-back, playing for the team from 1996-99, and was part of the team that got relegated to the Segunda in 1997 and the team that was promoted back in 1999.

Rayo tried getting him over the summer, but Levante won the race and Rayo moved on to other targets, eventually settling on Sandoval.



12th January, 2013. In the week that Rayo won 2-1 at Bilbao and were three points off a Champion's League spot, Valladolid won 3-1 against Mallorca. It was a routine week - just another win in a La Liga where headlines were filled with Barcelona's exploits.

But it was Patrick Ebert's performance in that game that struck me. Every play went through him - and it was not surprising that he scored twice and assisted the other. The quality of those goals was spectacular too - a long range shot that was as ridiculous as it was brilliant, and another that was remarkably similar to the famous one Zlatan scored for Ajax. The assist wasn't too bad either - a stunning cross that was perfectly placed for Óscar who needed just a touch from an outstretched leg to score.

And yet the goals only validate a performance that consisted of intricate passes, stunning dribbles, dangerous free kicks, and  audacious attempts at goal - including trying to chip the goalkeeper from near the goal line and hitting the post.

Watch it here:


Also, the list of top scorers for Valladolid that season reads - Óscar González (12), Manucho (8), Guerra (8), Ebert (6), Alberto Bueno (5). Any familiar names? :D

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Non-league Incider: Cray Valley Paper Mills 4-4 Punjab United Gravesend

Last game: 9th August: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers
After ripping up my groundhopping calendar, mostly because I was determined to avoid overnight travel, and partly due to other commitments, there was a period of time where non-league football took a backseat.
But that period did not last long. Because of course it didn't.

Secretly, I'd loved travelling over ten hours back-and-forth to watch some 10th division football. And this was 9th division football in London.
When I had gone to East Dulwich exactly a week back, I had commented on how the amount of graffiti struck me as I watched from on board a southeastern train. I was going the exact same way, but much further this time - then I had stopped at Denmark Hill, now I would have to go six stations further. The graffiti I had thought was so emblematic of south London quickly disappeared, as did the tall buildings desperately cluttered together. We, and by we I mean me, were going to the suburbs. The stations be…

Non-league Incider: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers

Last game: 8th August: Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 East Thurrock United

The previous day, I was blown away by my first ever football match experience. Dulwich Hamlet impressed me, but what impressed me more was the journey. The travel to the stadium was just as enjoyable as the football itself.

I had caught the groundhopping bug.

There were no games scheduled for the 9th of August. There was one, near Wigan, and all I had booked earlier was a refundable bus ticket from Manchester Airport leaving at quarter past midnight.

I should have refunded it. This was a mistake. This whole day was a mistake.

I was only slightly hungover from the previous night, but that was nothing compared to this feeling of loss - I couldn't handle the fact that there was a game happening. And I wasn't too far away. Just three hours and a bit. They'll fly by, I thought.

I was in autopilot. Something within me made me get up, grab a bag, and get out the door. This wasn't me. I wasn't travelling - I was …

Jaime Mata - the one that got away (18th January, 2018)

A few months ago, Rayo fans woke up to this:
CONVOCATORIA| 📋 Lista de 1️⃣9️⃣ jugadores para el debut mañana en la #CopaDelRey🏆 #NumanciaMálaga⚽️ #VamosMálaga💙 👉 https://t.co/hlScwtJkhYpic.twitter.com/qFGrdvOnrQ — Málaga CF (@MalagaCF) October 23, 2017
That was a bittersweet moment - pride for a Rayista who was going to succeed at Málaga, but bitterness at the club for letting him go for free and not tying him down early enough.

Midfielder Pablo Clavería slipped through the cracks. He wasn't renewed, and got tired of waiting - a depressingly normal situation for a smaller, cash-strapped club.

This is the story of another player who slipped through.

Like Pablo, he has a powerful shot on him. Unlike Pablo, it's key to his job. The striker made his name in his hometown of Madrid in the Tercera, after rising through the ranks of Galáctico Pegaso. He would play for the reserves in 2007, before playing for the senior team during the 2008-09 campaign.

During the 2009-10 campaign, ec…