Levante v Atletico: Simeone's men on the brink of history

Diego Simeone's men battled through to the Champions League final despite Tuesday's second-leg loss to Bayern Munich and will face rival Real in Milan on May 28.

DiegoSimeoneCropped

The Liga title is also up for grabs, with Atletico second to leader Barcelona only by virtue of an inferior head-to-head record against Luis Enrique's side.

Atletico Madrid faces three more matches this season that could define the club's history and it all starts with Sunday's trip to relegated Levante.

Diego Simeone's men battled through to the Champions League final despite Tuesday's second-leg loss to Bayern Munich and will face rival Real in Milan on May 28.

The Liga title is also up for grabs, with Atletico second to leader Barcelona only by virtue of an inferior head-to-head record against Luis Enrique's side.

While this weekend's visitor to the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia have its sights set on domestic and European glory, the host is heading for the Segunda Division.

Levante's fate was sealed by Monday's 3-1 loss to Malaga, ending its six-year stay in La Liga.

Such contrasting fortunes mark Atletico as clear favourite for maximum points, but the gulf in class was not so apparent in January's reverse fixture.

It took until the 81st minute for Atletico to break the deadlock on that occasion, with Thomas Partey's goal ultimately settling matters.

And there is perhaps a more telling warning from the past that should ensure Simeone's side is on its guard against complacency.

When it last won the title in 2013-14 – the same year it lost the Champions League final to Real – Atletico was beaten 2-0 at Levante in the closing stages of the campaign.

This weekend's match will be an emotional one for Levante captain Juanfran, as it will be his final appearance on home soil.

The 39-year-old announced following the club's failure to avoid the drop that he would retire at the end of the season.

He started his career at Levante and returned in 2010 to help the club gain promotion to La Liga.

Speaking to Marca about his decision, the defender said: "These are not easy situations and when one is possibly not going to play anymore.

"I've been six years with Levante. For me it has been a success, but the truth of football is in the present." 

Diego Godin (hamstring) and Tiago – who recently returned from a fractured tibia – may be rested for the visitors.

Levante welcomes back Jefferson Lerma from suspension, but Jose Mari is serving a ban for Rubi's side.

Key Opta Facts:

- Atletico Madrid has won the last six league games, without conceding in the last four, its best run this season.
- Levante has not lost any of the last four games at Ciutat (W2 D2), its best such run with Rubi in charge.
- The last time Diego Simeone's side recorded as many wins in a row in La Liga was in 2014 (nine) and it finished the run at Ciutat.
- Fernando Torres is the only Spanish player to have scored for Atletico against Levante in the last nine goals scored by Atletico players. 

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