Season preview: Levante

Season preview: Levante
© PA Photos
Sports Mole assesses Levante's chances of success in the new La Liga campaign.

After finishing sixth in the 2011-2012 campaign, Levante, who had returned to Spain's top flight in 2010, had been expected to push on last season.

It didn't quite happen for the Valencia-based outfit, however, with the club having to settle for an 11th-place finish in Spain's top flight.

Here, Sports Mole discusses whether Joaquin Caparros can secure a top-half finish in the new campaign.

In: Sergio da Silva Pinto (Hannover), David Barral (Orduspor), Jordi Xumetra (Elche), Issam El Adoua (Guimaraes), Andreas Ivanschitz (Mainz), Javi Jimenez (Real Murcia)

Out: Jose Luis Morales (Eibar – Loan), Michel (Valencia), Ivan Lopez (Girona – Loan), Dariusz Dudka (Released), Jose Barkero (Real Zaragoza), Pedro Rios (Released), Gustavo Munua (Fiorentina), Juanlu (Released), Sergio Ballesteros (Released), Roger (Real Zaragoza – Loan)

Last season: 11th

Manager: Joaquin Caparros

Three key players:


Helsingborg's David Accam is pursued by Levante's Vicente Iborra during the side's Europa League clash on September 20, 2012 © AP Photos
Vicente Iborra: If Levante were to be summed up by one player, then it would be their midfield general Iborra. The Spaniard has been with the club since his youth days, making his first-team debut for the Spanish outfit in 2007-2008. That said, if it weren't for severe financial difficulties at the club, which led to a number of players leaving, he may have been forced to search elsewhere for regular football. There have been a number of arrivals and indeed departures over the last 12 months, but Iborra has been a constant throughout. Since 2008, he has appeared 165 times for the club in the league, scoring eight times in the process. At just 25 years of age, he certainly has the time to emerge into one of the most decorated players in their history.


Levante's Ruben Garcia reacts after failing to score against Rubin Kazan during the Europa League match on March 7, 2013© AP Photos
Ruben Garcia: The Spanish winger, who is another product of the club's prosperous academy system, made his first-team debut for Levante in September 2012. He did not look back from that moment as he established himself as one of their key players in the previous season, making 31 appearances in La Liga, scoring four goals in the process. A number of European clubs were believed to be sniffing around the 20-year-old this summer, but it is understood that the midfielder believes that his education is best served at his hometown club. In a team that doesn't score too many goals, Garcia will certainly be asked to provide in the new campaign.


Panathinaikos' Loukas Vyntra in action during the Europa League on October 4, 2012© Getty Images
Loukas Vyntra: After struggling in defence in the early stages of last season, it is no surprise that the introduction of experienced Greek international Vyntra stemmed the flow of goals. The 32-year-old, who swapped Panathinaikos, where he had been since 2003, for Levante in the January window, made 15 league appearances in the second part of the season. Although the Greek, who has 42 international caps to his name, primarily operates in the centre of defence, he can also play in either full-back position or at the base of the midfield, qualities which will make him a key player for Levante in the new season.

First game: Barcelona (A) Aug 18

Sports Mole says: It has been a case of out with the old and in with the new at Levante this summer with the likes of Sergio Ballesteros departing the Spanish outfit. It is difficult to be critical of their form last season after finishing in 11th position, some 10 points clear of the relegation zone. They conceded 57 times in their 38 league games last season, but they found the back of the net on just 40 occasions, one of the worst records in the division. They are not exactly a team blessed with goals, but they have added in defensive areas, which should provide them with a good base to build from. In truth, a top-half finish should be just beyond them, but the supporters will be content with another mid-table position.

Predicted finish: 11th

Bologna player Robert Acquafresca celebrates after scroing for Bologna on March 4, 2012
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