Real Madrid 1-2 Levante (Asensio). A disappointing defeat. Here is an immediate reaction of the game. Still to come: Player ratings, press conferences, the post-game podcast and more.
An increasingly depleted Real Madrid currently under intense scrutiny were tasked with attempting to lift some of the pressure with another victory against Levante today. Anything other than the resounding 4-1 victory over Deportivo Alavés in the last game could have tipped things past boiling point. That result merely bottled concerns in anticipation for this fixture. Whilst the line-up was strong, the bench incorporated four Castilla players, and two goalkeepers - meaning that some of the reinforcements might have to really step up beyond their experience if things turned sour. The opposition listed former Castilla man Dani Gómez on the bench, however La Liga’s second top assister Jorge De Frutos was unavailable for a return to the Alfredo Di Stéfano.
✅ Our starting XI @LevanteUDen!#HalaMadrid | #RealMadridLevante pic.twitter.com/gO9IYrFZUe— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) January 30, 2021
Real Madrid actually turned up for this game. Players were fluid with their positioning and movement off of the ball. Nobody was shying away from responsibility. And importantly they looked dangerous at times. So in typical Real Madrid fashion, of course it somehow had to turn sour. Levante found themselves through on goal before the ten minute mark, and Eder Militão brought the forward down and in return was given his marching orders. Ten-man Madrid then took the lead minutes later, as Asensio found himself in acres of space on the counter, carrying the ball towards goal before picking his spot past the keeper. Madrid continued to look sharp, with many of the players performing better than I had seen from them in while, but Levante did manage to make their advantage count with a really nice first time finish inside the box from a cross. The visitors then clawed their way back into the play and Courtois was called upon to produce an excellent double save to keep the scores level by half time.
Kroos with a filthy pass. Shades of Rui Costa -> Sheva vs Real Madrid 2003.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 30, 2021
We don't get to see Asensio -- or anyone -- on a break like that often. Nice finish.
The second half still made for an open game, and missed chances from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio could have seen the hosts back in-front. Levante had the bigger chance to score again though, as Vinícius Júnior caught his man right on the line of the area to concede a penalty. The resulting spot kick was saved well by Courtois, but they would still go on to take the lead through a well worked corner with just over ten minutes to go. Mariano and Sergio Arribas were thrown into the mixer, but to little effect. Their fresh legs looked out of place with the tiredness and mentality of the starters. The game finished at 2-1, with Levante taking all three points back home. Keep an eye out for the player ratings, as well as the post game podcast dropping later on today. What did you think about the game? And what does this mean for the season now?