Now past the midway point, the Liga BBVA is at its most exciting. One of the most in-form sides heading into this final stage of the season is Levante. Joaquín Caparrós’ men have gone seven matches in a row without suffering a single defeat, their best run of results during the 2013/14 campaign.
The Valencian outfit has drawn four and won three of its last seven games against teams at the top of the table like Barcelona (1-1), Sevilla (2-3) and Real Sociedad (0-0), as well as against theoretical direct rivals in the fight for mid-table safety like Málaga (1-0), Rayo Vallecano (0-0), Almería (1-0) and Real Valladolid (1-1).
There have been a lot of factors to the team from Orriols’ success. The main one is coach Joaquín Caparrós, who during his first season with the club has instilled his philosophy of industry into the squad. The Utrera-born manager has already achieved a similar run of results while in charge of Athletic Club during the 2008/09 season, when the Basque side qualified for the UEFA Europa League.
On top of that Levante has managed to balance its squad with experienced players as well as young talent. Two clear examples of this are David Barral and Keylor Navas. The Andalusian forward returned to the Spanish topflight after a brief spell playing in Turkey and looks rejuvenated. Barral has scored six goals this season, three of which have come during the seven-match unbeaten run. Levante’s other ‘secret’ has been Keylor Navas, who in his third year with the club has turned into one of the Liga BBVA’s revelations this season. The Costa Rican goalkeeper has conceded 23 goals in the 24 matches he’s started this season (four coming in the last seven matches in which Levante hasn’t lost).
Numbers like these have instilled a clear sense of excitement in the Ciutat de València. Qualifying for Europe is a reality but, while hoping to achieve it, Caparrós remains cautious with his statements: "I’m cold-hearted and not much of a romantic because closing your eyes and dreaming won’t get you anything in football. I prefer to focus on the reality".