With success having been in short supply for Levante in recent years, the club are showing a return to prominence in time to secure the additional Champions League spot, writes Martin Whiteley.
Once no stranger to collecting the top Spanish women’s football prizes, Levante are battling back from some lean times to contend at the top end of the Primera Division Femenina with the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and now Real Madrid.
In nine seasons at the start of the century, Levante claimed three league titles, won the Copa de la Reina six times, and claimed the 2000 Supercopa de Femenina.
When looking to form a women’s section, as other clubs have done in Spain, Levante acquired an already participating team. That side was San Vicente CFF, which was originally founded in 1993.
San Vicente CFF had already claimed their first national title success in the 1996-97 campaign — their first season as a top-flight side — and came under the umbrella of Levante in 1998. The 1999-00 season saw the team play under the Levante name for the first time.
Back then teams were divided into four groups, with 14 sides competing in each. The four group winners would participate in a play-off to decide the league champion.
After topping their group without losing a game in their first season, Levante lost 1-0 to Torrejon in their semi-final match-up. Silverware was not long in coming, though, as they were crowned champions in the next two campaigns. Levante’s last title success was in 2008 when, despite finishing the season level on 71 points with Rayo Vallecano, they had a better head-to-head record.
As well as they had done in the league, Levante were doubly successful in the cup. The first of three straight triumphs started in their maiden season, as well as going back-to-back in 2005, with another victory — their most recent — coming just two years later in 2007.
Success has been in short supply for Levante in recent years. Just three seasons after their final title, they found themselves ending the campaign in their lowest ever league position of ninth.
Recently signs have shown a return to prominence for Levante. The club has put together two third-place league finishes in a row and at the turn of this year, were only denied another Supercopa de Femenina success by Atletico Madrid after a 3-0 reversal in the final.
In their latest league game, Levante twice came from behind at home to defeat Real Sociedad 3-2. The Primera Division Femenina leading scorer Esther Gonzalez (18) scored the opener for the hosts who stayed seven points behind Barcelona, although the champions have played three games less.
Being able to chase down leaders Barca — 6-0 victors at home against Real Betis in the league in midweek, before defeating Logrono 3-0 to win the delayed 2020 Copa de la Reina final at the weekend — for another domestic title may be an extremely tough task for Levante this season.
However, with an additional Champions League spot now on offer to Spanish clubs, the side from the province of Valencia could be rewarded for their resurgence with an invite to the top table of European football.
Follow Martin on Twitter at @673martin