Levante 1-0 Real Madrid
Real Madrid are La Liga leaders no more. Los Blancos dropped points for the second week in a row, this time suffering a shock 0-1 defeat away to Levante.
A stunning strike from Levante captain Jose Luis Morales was enough to see the Granotas upset the La Liga 2020 odds, who had Real as significant favourites.
It was hardly ideal preparation for Zinedine Zidane’s men ahead of their huge Champions League clash against Manchester City in midweek.
And to make matters worse for Madrid, Eden Hazard — who had only just returned from a lengthy injury layoff — limped off once again ahead of a key stretch for Real.
Highlights of the game
It took the hosts six minutes to get the first notable goalscoring chance of the game. Karim Benzema got a shot off from a tight angle, which was comfortably saved by Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez. Eden Hazard also had a half-chance three minutes later as his shot was blocked and collected by Fernandez.
Benzema had a much better chance on 11 minutes, though, and really should’ve given Real the lead. After a great through ball from Isco, Benzema had just Fernandez to beat, but the Levante keeper denied the Frenchman with a fine save.
Real came even closer to opening the scoring on 17 minutes. Fernandez made a mess of trying to clear a corner, which allowed Casemiro to get a header on goal. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, his header went just inches wide of the open net.
Levante created very few La Liga 2020 highlights in the first half, with the biggest one coming on 24 minutes. Full-back Toño delivered a dangerous cross into the Real six-yard box, with on-loan Madrid striker Borja Mayoral ready to pounce. However, Eder Militao was on hand to make the crucial intervention.
Real continued to put the pressure on the visitors right on through to half-time. Luka Modric forced a save from Fernandez with a long-range effort from the edge of the box.
Levante had the first real chance after the break. Enis Bardhi smashed a shot that eventually went wide of Thibaut Courtois’ goal.
Meanwhile, Real once again got in behind the Levante defence on 53 minutes. This time, Hazard had his chance to go one-on-one with Fernandez, but the Belgian was unable to get the ball under control and produce a decent shot.
Levante nearly took the lead through a huge slice of luck on 58 minutes as Jose Campaña’s shot took a wicked deflection. But despite having not much to do, Courtois was alert and scrambled to palm the ball away. Courtois was once again called into action on the hour mark to save a Roger Marti shot.
Hazard had to go off on 67 minutes due to injury, with Vinicius Junior coming on for the Belgian. But the Brazilian was unable to provide a spark off the bench.
As the second half wore on, Levante looked the more likely side to take the lead, with Real struggling to create many chances.
And eventually, the hosts finally broke the deadlock 10 minutes from time. After a hopeful long ball ahead, captain Jose Luis Morales unleashed a stunning left-footed strike that beat Courtois on his near post.
That was a strike worthy of winning any match, and as it turned out, it was as Levante held on for the final 10 minutes to beat Los Blancos.
Based on the statistics, it looked as if Real had the clear upper hand. They controlled 63 per cent of possession and had 19 shots (seven on target) to Levante’s eight, with two on target.
But the home side was quite competitive throughout as Real failed to take their chances when they came.
As a result, Real suffered just their second league defeat of the season and their first since October. They had gone 15 matches without defeat in La Liga (10 wins, five draws).
The win moves Levante up to 10th place with 32 points. Seven of their 10 wins this season have come at home, two of which have now come against the two Spanish giants: Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Next up for Real is their massive Champions League round of 16 first leg against Manchester City. SBOTOP odds have Real as slight 2.69 underdogs in that match despite having home advantage.
And after that is an even bigger clash as Barcelona head to the Bernabeu for El Clasico. The first time these two sides met this season, they played out a drab 0-0 draw. Hopefully, this can be a much more entertaining affair the second time around.
As for Levante, they will look to win back-to-back games in La Liga for the first time in 2020 when they take on Eibar, who have gone winless in their last four matches (two draws, two losses). They were recently smashed 5-0 by Barcelona, with Lionel Messi scoring four goals.
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