After nine games last season Levante were the toast of La Liga. Fuelled by their complex scientific diet of pizza and beer, Los Granotes had rolled off seven straight wins to top the table as Halloween approached.
Eventually the fright they had given the big boys started to wane, although they remained in the Champions League places until just nine games out from the end of the season, and they eventually did enough to hold on to sixth and qualify for a first ever European adventure.
And even with the added toil and distraction of the Europa League this term they have been at it again through the autumn, making the Ciutat de Valencia the second best fortress in the League behind Atleti’s Vicente Calderon.
Levante’s 3-1 win over Granada on Sunday was their seventh consecutive win at home and the only time they haven’t emerged victorious there this season was on the opening weekend when they drew with Atleti. After Diego Simeone’s side won again this weekend, Levante also remain the only team to have taken anything from them this season.
In another recurring theme of recent campaigns the star of the show is a striker, claimed for nothing, but with plenty of talent and much to prove. Two seasons ago it was Felipe Caicedo who kept them up, last year Arouna Kone fired them into Europe and so far this season it is Obafemi Martins who is doing the business. The Nigerian has now scored four goals in his four-and-a-half games as a Granote and looks so fresh, quick and strong that he could really be 28 after all.
Despite Juan Ignacio Martinez’ slightly bizarre decision to play a weakened team away at Hannover at the start of the month they are also in a strong position to qualify from their Europa League group with six points from their three games to date.
Martinez, just like last season, continues to insist on getting enough points for survival first before targeting other goals, but with Obafemi firing, a return to Europe next season could yet be a possibility.
For now though Levante fans can afford to laugh at their big brother neighbours Valencia who have never finished below their city rivals but currently trail them by five points after another disappointing away day, this time at Real Betis. Another 1-0 defeat means than Mauricio Pellegrino’s side have taken just one point from five games on the road this season and scored only one goal in the process.
At the top Barcelona and Atletico Madrid continued their record setting pace with 5-0 and 3-1 wins over Rayo Vallecano and Osasuna respectively. Real Madrid remained in the hunt eight points back with their own 5-0 demolition of Mallorca leaving the other weekly tally at Lionel Messi 2, Cristiano Ronaldo 2, Radamel Falcao 1.
There was even more good news for Atleti in their quest to guarantee Champions League football for next season as on top of Valencia’s defeat, Sevilla also lost 2-1 at Real Zaragoza, whilst Malaga could only draw 0-0 in Saturday’s siesta at the Cornella.