Barca Scrape Through – But Can Tiny Levante Last the Pace?


Being honest about it if you are not a fan of Real Madrid or Barcelona themselves, the most interesting thing about Spain’s Liga is the prospect of someone splitting them and winning the title.

It does happen.

Valencia won in 2002 and 2004. Deportivo La Coruna won in 2000. Atletico Madrid won in 1996.

Those four years apart, Real Madrid and Barcelona have won the title every season out of the last 27.

Yet those three other clubs are not minnows.

In terms of points accumulated in Spanish League history, Valencia are third and Atletico fifth.

Only the plucky Galicians from La Coruña have come from outside Spain’s historical top ten to win it in recent years. They are the eleventh best side in Spanish history and the lowest placed in that table ever to win the league.

Only Atletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad from the Basque Country and Sevilla and Real Betis from the City of Seville have won otherwise in 80 seasons. That equates to nine different league champions in 80 seasons since 1929.

By contrast in England since 1929, 17* different clubs have won the league, and their league was suspended during the war and missed six seasons. France has produced 19 different league champions since 1929.

In Spain though, you need to have been one of the big boys to take the big prizes. Or do you?

38th on that all time Spanish point list lie Levante, the City of Valencia’s other club.

Levante's Campo de Vallejo holds its last game in 1969

They drew their first two league games away from home and have since won six on the trot including a win over Real Madrid. 13 goals were scored to two conceded in those six wins.

They were top this morning, but Barcelona escaped from lowly Grenada with a narrow 1-0 win to retake the league lead. Levante host 15th placed Real Sociedad on Wednesday. They will reclaim top place if they win.

Levante’s Estadi Ciutat de València holds just 25,000 people, less than half the capacity of Valencia’s Mestalla ground.

They left their traditional base in Vallejo in 1969 for the suburb of Orriols on the outskirts of the city.

The club was born of a merger in 1939 between Unión Deportiva Levante and Gimnástico.

In 2009, the club was so heavily in debt that the players had not been paid.

So desperate did that situation become that in one match agains Deportivo, the Levante players stood still for the first minute in protest. To their credit, the Deportivo players refused to score.

In the end, the league organised a friendly match to raise funds to play their wages.

Now Levante are back in the top league and their collection of misfits and discards have taken the league by storm.

Only the Brazilian Wellington is remotely famous and he is only on loan after Arsenal gave him the boot.

Neither is their past littered with glory. Johann Cruyff played ten games for them in 1981.

One time Sounders FC trialist Felix Ettien was there for eleven years playing 308 times. Arsenal defender Lauren was there on his way up the ladder before heading to Mallorca.

Now Levante are at the top of the ladder. Can they stay there and become the most astonishing league champions in a major league since Nottingham Forest stormed England in the early 80s?


*Seeing as you asked - Sheffield Wednesday, Arsenal, Everton, Sunderland, Man City, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Spurs, Man U, Wolves, Chelsea, Burnley, Ipswich, Leeds, Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers.



About Author

Steve is the founder and owner of Prost Amerika. He covered the expansion of MLS soccer in Cascadia at first hand. As Editor in Chief of, he was accredited at the 2014 World Cup Final. He is the former President of the North American Soccer Reporters Association/ Originally from Glasgow, he is a supporter of the Great Glasgow Alternative, Partick Thistle.

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