Good evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for the Primera Division clash between Levante
and Sevilla as both sides go in search of their first points of the new season. Lets get straight down to business.
TEAM NEWS: First things first, let's bring you some team news! Levante have made three changes to the side that was swept away by Barcelona last week, bringing in Loukas Vyntra, Issam El Adoua and Pedro Rios, while Sevilla have also rung the changes, bringing in five new faces from their mid-week win over Slask Wroclaw. Full team news on its way.
LEVANTE STARTING XI: Navas; Navarro, Juanfran, Lopez, Vyntra; El Adoua, Pinto, Xumetra, Pedro Rios; Garcia, Barral
LEVANTE SUBS: Rodas, Angel, Karabelas, Ivanschitz, Jimenez, Higon, Simao Junior
SEVILLA STARTING XI: Beto; Navarro, Fazio, Coke, Cala; Rakitic, Marin, Iborra, Derotti; Vitolo, Gameiro
SEVILLA SUBS: Varas, Figueiras, Cristoforo, Bacca, Rabello, Kondogbia, Moreno
It is not surprising that Levante have opted to make a few changes after last week's debacle against Barcelona. Manager Joaquin Caparros will have told his players that no side in the world would have been able to cope with Lionel Messi and co on the form they showed last week, but a 7-0 defeat is still a confidence-shattering result, particularly on the opening day of the season when optimism is always sky high.
They could not have wished for a harder start to the half, but they certainly could have wished for a better one. Today's match is no walk in the park for Levante either, but Caparros will be keen for his side to really kick start their season tonight. He may well view this game as the real start of the season now that they have got Barcelona out of the way.
Barcelona may well be out of the way, but only time will tell if that 7-0 drubbing is out of the system. Such a heavy defeat will undoubtedly take some getting over, but what is important for Levante now is that they do so as soon as possible. Victory tonight would be a perfect way to do that.
As for Sevilla, they would have been hoping for a much better start than they had last week. Atletico Madrid are one of the toughest teams in the league but Sevilla will have fancied their chances of coming away with at least a point at home. They wasn't the case, however, and they will also need to bounce back this evening.
For a team that will be hoping to push for European places again this season, it is imperative that they get off the mark as quickly as possible. A second consecutive defeat today would leave them four to six points off some of their rivals which, although still very early in the season, puts them at an immediate disadvantage.
The good news for Sevilla is that they have already had a chance to get that opening day defeat out of their system. They beat Slask Wroclaw 4-1 in the first leg of their Europa League playoff on Thursday, an advantage which should be enough to safely see them through to the group stages.
PREDICTION: We're five minutes from kickoff in Valencia, so it is about time I made a prediction for tonight's match! I think Levante will still be hurting from that heavy loss to Barcelona and Sevilla should be able to take advantage. They have the greater quality throughout their side, and I can see them winning this one fairly comfortably. I'll go for 2-0 to the visitors.
These two sides didn't exactly put on a goal-fest in either of their two meetings last season. Levante held Sevilla to a 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture, while at home Levante pulled off an impressive 1-0 win.
Right, the players are out and we're just about ready to go here. It is a big match for both teams as they look for their first points of the new season.
KICKOFF: We're underway at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia.
The hosts have made a bright start to this match and have an early corner after a cross from the right was cut out by a Sevilla defender.
That corner is followed by another, and then one more for good measure as Levante continue to threaten. Their third corner is played short, but the eventual cross is comfortably cleared.
Sevilla are really struggling to find their rhythm at the moment. Levante have dominated the ball in the early stages and, although they haven't created a really good chance yet, they do look quite dangerous when on the attack.
Levante have started this match very much on the front foot. They now have their fifth corner in the opening eight minutes as Sevilla continue to just about deal with crosses into their box.
This is more like it from Sevilla. They have their best spell of possession as they knock the ball about and keep hold of it for a few minutes. It doesn't go anywhere, but they are starting to settle into this one.
Marin looks to be the player most capable of providing a little moment of magic. He almost does exactly that here with a short dribble and stabbed through ball, but Gamiero has just strayed offside.
Now it is Levante who are struggling to keep hold of the ball for any length of time as Sevilla begin to exert their authority on the match. Still no chances to report, though.
UPDATE: There is one more La Liga match currently taking place, and it is still goalless between Malaga and Barcelona, who are without the injured Lionel Messi. I will keep you updated with any goals as and when they go in from that match.
Levante have a chance to break clear with Barral leading the charge. He has men either side of him but opts to go alone, eventually being forced out wide as the Sevilla defence get back to clear his cross.
A Sevilla corner is met by the head of Fazio at he near post, but he can't keep his header down and puts it a long way wide and over. It just isn't happening for either side in an attacking sense at the moment.
Good pressure high up the field from Levante as they hound the Sevilla defenders into a rushed clearance. Nothing comes of it, but that showed great desire to get the ball back from the hosts.
CHANCE! By far the best moment of the match sees Levante break clear and they really should be 1-0 up! Ruben spearheads a three-on-one attack for his side before feeding the ball to Pinto down the right flank. He only has the keeper to beat but skews his effort into the side netting when he should have scored. Big, big chance.
That was a rare highlight in what has been a pretty dull affair so far. Neither keeper has been forced into a save so far and, that Pinto chance apart, neither side have looked like scoring.
Rios finds space down the right side of the box and I just winder whether that earlier miss is playing on his mind as he turned down a decent chance to shoot there. It was from a tight angle, which perhaps explains his decision to drive to the byline before pulling the ball back, but no-one is there to tap it in.
Still goalless here in Valencia, and that is also the case in the other La Liga match currently taking place between Malaga and Barcelona. This has not been the best half an hour of football, that's for sure.
Navas comes to claim a high ball into the box and tumbles over his own defender, which sends him head over heels. He is lucky not to land on his head as that was quite an awkward fall, but most importantly he kept hold of the ball.
YELLOW CARD! The referee brandishes a yellow card for the first time today, and David Navarro is the deserving recipient. He flew in with a late sliding tackle on Pinto around 25 yards from goal.
YELLOW CARD! Another yellow quickly follows, this time for Pedro Lopez. It is silly from the Levante man as he is awarded the free kick, but talks his way into the book for attempting to get someone else cautioned.
YELLOW CARD! The ref is producing a flurry of yellow cards now! The latest of these is shown to Iborra for a foul midway inside his own half.
YELLOW CARD! Surprise, surprise, here is another caution! This one is probably the harshest of the lot as Barral enters the notebook for an aerial challenge. He's going to run out of ink in his pen if he keeps this up!
An already low quality half has been really disrupted by repeated fouls in the last five minutes or so. I don't think we have played one minute of consecutive football without the ref blowing his whistle since that first yellow card.
Foul after foul after foul. To be fair to the ref, he has been given little choice in many of the decisions. It is the players who are turning this into a scrappy match at the moment, although the ref could perhaps be a little more lenient at times.
YELLOW CARD! It was only a matter of time before that pesky card re-emerged from the referee's pocket, it has been almost five minutes since we've seen it. This time Coke is the man who goes into the book, although he is justifiably unhappy with the decision as there was very little in the challenge. Barral made a meal of it though, throwing himself to the ground in theatrical fashion.
HALF TIME: Levante 0-0 Sevilla
The referee's whistle was the busiest thing on the park in that half and it is used one final time to draw an end to the opening period. It has been a disjointed and dull match so far with neither side looking dangerous going forward.
The sole highlight from that half came courtesy of the hosts, who should have taken the lead through Sergio Pinto. A quick breakaway ultimately presented Pinto with a brilliant chance to break the deadlock, but he could only fire into the side netting.
Elsewhere in La Liga tonight, Barcelona have taken the lead against Malaga, with Adriano getting the goal right on the stroke of half time. You can follow that match live with Sports Mole here
Despite the lack of attacking intent shown by both sides, their respective managers are probably happy with how things have gone so far. For Levante, a clean sheet would be a godsend following their 7-0 loss to Barcelona last week which is perhaps why their emphasis seems to be on defence today. For Sevilla, meanwhile, an away draw would not be the worst result for them, particularly after their opening day defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Having said that, I would expect to see things open up a bit more in the second half. As players begin to tire more holes will open up, and the temptation of pushing on to win the match will surely grab at least one of these two teams.
One thing that would really help the game is fewer fouls. The players and the ref have been guilty as far that is concerned. Fernando Teixeira needs to let the match flow and, although he has been given no choice but to award free kicks on a few occasions, there have been some circumstances when he could have been more lenient.
SEVILLA SUB: The visitors have made a change at the break, bringing on Geoffrey Kondogbia in the middle of the park, while Iborra makes way.
KICKOFF: Here we go again! We're back underway in Valencia - can either side get a goal in this second half? Let's hope for a little more entertainment at least.
Kondogbia immediately lets Levante know that he has come on with a crunching tackle on El Adoua. The sub went in with his studs up and it could have ended up a lot worse for El Adoua, who still writhes about in apparent pain on the floor. No card though, which is surprising given how the ref has approached this one so far.
A rare effort on goal from either side as Juan Cala rises highest to nod a free kick just over. It was quite a way out for a header and the keeper always had it covered, but it is just about the best thing that the visitors have created so far.
CHANCE! Sevilla are almost gifted the opener after some shocking defending from Vyntra. He went to cut out a high ball forward but completely missed it, allowing Gameiro to bear down on goal. The Frenchman has a glorious chance to open the scoring but rushes his half volley and slices it wide. He should have done a lot better there.
That was by far Sevilla's best chance of the match, and it doesn't look like either side are going to be spoilt for goalscoring opportunities today so they need to take them when they come along!
We're 10 minutes into the second half and it looks like panning out in much the same way as the first. Plenty of free kicks and not many chances has been an accurate summary of the 55 minutes so far.
Having said that, the two chances that we have seen really should have resulted in goals. Both were in similar positions and both were sliced wide of the near post.
That pretty much sums this match up so far. The ball falls to Vitolo on the edge of the box, but his first-time effort goes flying out for a throw in. Terrible shot.
LEVANTE SUB: The first change of the day comes from the hosts, who bring on Andreas Ivanschitz for Pedro Rios on the hour mark.
UPDATE: There seems to be a little more action in the other La Liga match currently going on tonight. It remains 1-0 to Barcelona against Malaga, but Gerard Pique has just come within inches of doubling that lead, powering a header against the bar.
A good ball into the box almost finds Barral at the near post, but it was just too high for the Levante striker. That would have been a great chance had he reached it.
SHOT! We've just seen that rarest of things - a shot on target! It came through Cala, who rose highest to head a corner goalwards, but his effort lacks power and is easy for the keeper.
YELLOW CARD! Kevin Gamerio becomes the latest player to be booked by the ref, and it is a very harsh one. He barely touched Juanfran, who went down theatrically.
SEVILLA SUB: On comes Bryan Rabello in place of Perotti. Can the Chilean come up with something to light up the closing 20 minutes?
YELLOW CARD! The ref's pocket is like a toaster at the moment, he is being far too card-happy. Once again, a free kick would have sufficed here, but instead Kondogbia becomes the latest in a long line of players to be booked.
LEVANTE SUB: Simao Junior is about to be introduced for Levante, and he will replace Jordi Xumetra.
CHANCE! Sevilla have a good chance to break the deadlock but are eventually thwarted by the linesman's flag. I think it was Gameiro who turned a mis-hit volley goalwards, but he didn't get enough on it and his teammate at the back post was offside.
UPDATE: Let off for Barcelona! Malaga have hit the post in their match, and it remains 1-0 to the reigning La Liga champions.
YELLOW CARD! Fazio becomes the latest name in what must surely now be a bulging notebook for the ref. Levante get a free kick in a very good position but waste it with a poor delivery.
PENALTY SHOUT! Three Sevilla attackers appeal as one for a penalty, but the referee remains unmoved. Vitolo's cross was flicked on to the arm of Navarro, but he had it tightly tucked into his body and the ref got that one spot on.
SEVILLA SUB: Gameiro hasn't had the best of times this evening and he is the man to make way here, being replaced by Carlos Bacca.
DOUBLE SAVE! Oh, how have Levante not opened the scoring there?! A well-hit free kick from range stings the palms of Beto, who merely parries it into the air rather than over the top. He makes up for his mistake immediately, however, saving Navarro's rebound from close range. Navarro really should have done better there, but the keeper deserves some credit.
We're still goalless here and it has been a largely uneventful match punctuated by some really good chances. There have been three clear sights of goal, but neither side have been able to take advantage so far. Is there to be a late twist?
Ivanschitz has a good chance to break free but, with a teammate calling for the ball either side of him, opts to go alone and is eventually tackled. Poor decision from the Levante man there.
The fourth official has signalled three minutes of added time at the end of this match. Can either side find a dramatic late equaliser?
LEVANTE SUB: Levante seem happy enough with a goalless draw, and they are trying to wind the clock down with this sub. On comes Jason in place of Ruben Garcia.
Jason is immediately involved and provides one of the brightest individual moments of the match when he turns his man on the left side of the box before curling an effort towards the far corner. He doesn't get enough swerve on his shot and it ends up some way wide, but that is better from the hosts.
FULL TIME: Levante 0-0 Sevilla
So, both sides are still left looking for their first wins of the season, and it is easy to see why. Neither team impressed during that 90 minutes as they played out a dull and largely uneventful goalless draw. Levante are still looking for their first goal of the season, and their goal difference remains at an unhealthy minus seven after two matches.
There were a few decent chances in the match, but neither side could take advantage. David Navarro and Sergio Pinto both should have scored for the hosts while Kevin Gameiro missed a very good chance for Sevilla at the start of the second half.
Plenty to mull over for both managers then. The overriding feeling following today's match will not be a positive one and they will both be slightly worried at their lack of creativity and excitement. Even in the good chances, neither side really looked like scoring.
There are positives for both teams to take, though. For Levante, it is their first point of the season and a clean sheet is a decent way to respond to their 7-0 mauling at the hands of Barcelona last week. They looked a lot more solid in defence and that will please their manager no end. As for Sevilla, they are also now up and running in terms of league points, and a draw away from home is not exactly a bad result.
Elsewhere in La Liga today, Barcelona have continued their 100% record at the start of the season, narrowly overcoming Malaga 1-0 thanks to an Adriano strike. Atletico Madrid have also still got a perfect record thanks to a 5-0 win over Rayo Vallecano earlier today. Another match is just about to kick off, and you can follow Real Betis vs. Celta Vigo with Matt Law here
That's all we have time for today! Thank you for joining Sports Mole
for this evening's match, I'm just sorry that we couldn't bring you any goals! I will leave you with Mark Langshaw's match report
, and be sure to stick around for any reaction. From me, though, it is goodbye!