The Levante squad rightly entitled themselves to a lap of honour at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium last night greeting their supporters after achieving what no other team has managed to do in the current league campaign...beating FC Barcelona. Thus ends the Catalan sides quest to achieve a record that has stood the test of time since the 1930s in a league campaign which only included 18 games. Barça are however LaLiga champions and no-one can take that honour away from Valverde's side which makes it all more surprising that it was humble Levante UD, a team who have flirted with relegation for most of the season but ultimately were the side to extinguish the Barcelona dream.
It was a crazy contest with Barça arriving in Valencia with no Lionel Messi in the squad, the same Messi who saved the Catalan side in Sevilla recently when it appeared a first season defeat was imminent. It was a game both goalkeepers will want to forget with almost everything aimed at the target ending up in a goal with credit also being handed out to the forward players too for their precision in front of goal. The match was a sign of the incredible work accomplished in such a short space by Levante coach Paco López. A virtual unknown until recently, club president Quico Catalán drafted the "B team" coach into action after the dismissal of Muñiz with the side looking doomed for a return to the second tier. Lopez's impact has been incredible with "Els Granotes" picking up a remarkable 25 points from his ten games in charge.
It really is a tall order to finish a full domestic campaign unbeaten with so many games to play and as the season progresses every team wants to be the one team that takes that "scalp". This is a situation that both Real Madrid experienced in Elche in 1969 with Real Sociedad undergoing something similar losing to Sevilla in 1980. These were games that were talked about for years afterwards and given the current interest in the Spanish league, I expect a similar situation from the 5-4 outcome. Last night the world was talking about Levante UD and congratulations must go to the side living very much in the shadow of Valencia CF in the city. Congratulations too must go to Barça for the way they endeavoured to save their record fighting back from a 5-1 score line falling short with the final 5-4 result. They may have lost the record but last night offered a lesson in courage and determination to us all.