Levante surprises Barcelona in Copa del Rey

Levante's Stadium
Levante's Stadium

In the First Leg of the Round of 16 in Copa del Rey action, Getafe won 1-0 at home over Valladolid, Real Madrid won 3-0 over visiting Leganes, Real Betis and Real Sociedad tied 0-0, Villarreal was held 2-2 at home by Espanyol, and Sevilla won 3-1 away to Athletic Bilbao. Levante provided the storyline.

The surprise result of the round was Levante’s 2-1 home win over cup holders Barcelona. Not that the Cules are too worried about overcoming a one-goal deficit at home given their away goal advantage, but the defeat marked the third loss of the year in all competitions for Barca.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde chose not to play Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Ivan Rakitic, Jordi Alba, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, opting for a reserve side and giving most of his starters a day off.  He gambled that any damage done by Levante might be rectified at the return leg and at this juncture it seems a good bet. With the La Liga trophy closer to Barca than 10-points-adrift Real Madrid, this competition and the UEFA Champions League seem the better chances to see some competitive clashes between the eternal, classic arch-rivals.

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