Levante Unión Deportiva tore apart a disinterested Futbol Club Barcelona after going a goal down at home in a game where they managed to run out 3-1 victors to get the Estadi Ciutat de València rocking in the Saturday afternoon game.
Story of the Match
Barcelona came out of the blocks intent on controlling the game straight away as expected, enjoying a lot of possession but not many real chances to score. This has been a running problem throughout this season and continued again today.
About 15 minutes into the game Levante started to create real problems for the Blaugrana as chances were being made by Giorgio Brandi. However, each time Barça's new €120 million striker, Antonie Griezmann, was being asked to do more defensive work than attacking. Barça managed to weather the storm before applying some pressure on Levante, as Lionel Messi found Nélson Semedo free on the left-hand side who in turn slipped Griezmann through on goal but, his shot was nowhere near challenging the goalkeeper.
This connection was growing as Semedo once again managed to break away and slip Griezmann into the box, this time, however, he tried to find another yellow shirt. Unluckily for him, Sergio Postigo managed to get across to block the pass, Barça were starting to get going this half. Again, Messi slotted in Griezmann with a quality ball through the middle, after some nice stepovers he gets the shot off, but Aitor Fernández just managed to get a foot onto it preventing them from taking the lead.
However, in the 35th minute Semedo once again caused havoc on the left as this time he was fed by Griezmann. After breezing past the defence, he was caught just before crossing it. There was no hesitation from the referee as he awards Barcelona the penalty. Despite some doubts people have about his technique, Messi walked up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to give the visitors the lead. Not much else happened in this half, with the biggest thing to note being Luis Suarez going off injured for Carlos Perez in the 40th minute. Half time, Barcelona go in on top and Levante started to look a bit tired as the half went on.
The second half started and immediately Barça were under sustained pressure with many careless passes being played and no real urgency, as Levante found belief in themselves. José Campaña whipped in a low cross but Borja Mayoral couldn’t reach it as Marc-André ter Stegen thankfully grasped the ball.
It had been coming and in the 60th minute, with Barcelona once again not paying any real attention as Gerard Piqué just hoofed the ball long with no real direction, allowing Levante to come straight back at them. José Luis Morales picked it up in the box before laying off to a completely free Campaña who side foots it straight past ter Stegen. The ground was now rocking, and Levante were looking to get yet another home victory over this Barcelona side, after managing to do so in their past two visits to the Estadi Ciutat de València.
Not a minute after the play getting back underway Mayoral picks the ball up about 25 yards out with still a lot of work to do, he swivelled and decided to smash it with his right foot. Marc-André ter Stegen got a hand onto it but, the shot was way too powerful as the ground exploded into noise as the home side took the lead after 62 minutes.
Barcelona look completely out of the contest, their minds seemed to be on the mid-week Champions League game, and it cost them dearly in the second half. As only another 5 minutes later after giving away another needless foul Levante had a freekick on the right side. The ball was chipped in and no one really challenged Clément Lenglet as his header landed straight in the middle of the box perfect for Nemanja Radoja to strike it on the volley. However, the ball wasn’t well hit and looked like a routine save for the keeper, until Sergio Busquets decided to try and get a foot on it which took completely away from the keeper, putting the home side 3-1 up after being 0-1 only 10 minutes earlier.
From here Barcelona tried to get back in the game having most of the possession but creating no real chances, Levante had a few breakaways but nothing amounted to much. In the 73rd minute, Messi managed to wake up finally and put the ball in the net after a quick one-two with Griezmann before faking his shot sending the last defence and keeper the wrong way. Barça thought they had some hope of getting back into this game but, correctly VAR ruled the goal out as Griezmann was clearly offside when giving the pass back to Messi.
Youngster Ansu Fati tried to bring some energy into the Barça attack with a clever cut inside but his shot was well wide. Injury time and Barça were still trying as Messi sent a lofted cross into the back post for an unmarked Fati. However, his header was poor and straight at the keeper, it should’ve been 3-2 then. Levante broke and had a one on one with Gonzalo Melero looking to kill the game but, somehow, he managed to send it wide of the mark leaving Paco López seething with anger. However, it was the last kick of the game as Levante ran out 3-1 victors against a poor looking Barcelona side.
Campaña started off this comeback with his smart powerful side-foot finish but, also managed to get the assist for the second goal. Apart from that, he was producing dangerous chances with a constant flurry of low crosses into the box to help apply pressure onto this Barcelona side.
Levante Unión Deportiva: Aitor Fernández; Rúben Vezo, Sergio Postigo, Carlos Clerc, Jorge Miramón; Gonzalo Melero, Nemanja Radoja, Enis Bardhi (Rubén Rochina 62nd), José Campaña (Erick Cabaco 87th); Borja Mayoral, José Luis Morales (Nikola Vukcevic 82nd).
Futbol Club Barcelona: Marc-André ter Stegen; Nélson Semedo, Clément Lenglet, Gerard Piqué, Sergi Roberto; Frenkie de Jong, Arthur (Ansu Fati 67th), Arturo Vidal (Sergio Busquets 65th); Luis Suárez (Carles Perez 41st), Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi.