Wasteful Real Madrid drop points with surprise draw against Levante

Reigning LaLiga champions Real Madrid dropped points for the second game in a row as Ivi's early opener earned Levante their share of the spoils from a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.

Zinedine Zidane's men were held by Valencia before the international break and Lucas Vazquez's first-half response was only enough for another tie upon the resumption of the league.

Such was Real's frustration at their inability to break down Levante's stubborn defence - marshalled superbly by goalkeeper Raul - that wing-back Marcelo saw red at the death.

The home defence, with Sergio Ramos returning, fell asleep in the 12th minute when Ivan Lopez's long throw-in evaded them all to find Ivi, who just needed to stick out a leg and poke the ball home.

The Valencians could not put further daylight between themselves and Real, though, and Vazquez's equaliser in the 36th minute dampened their spirits after a bright first-half showing.

Real's bid to snatch a late winner suffered a blow when Marcelo lashed out to earn a red card. Toni Kroos almost cut through the gloom to clinch it when he rattled a post deep into stoppage time.

In the gallery above, we take a look at some of the best pictures from the game.

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La Liga discussing plans to play Barcelona and Real Madrid games abroad

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The likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona may soon play competitive La Liga games in China or the United States, Spanish league president Javier Tebas revealed on Friday.

Tebas suggested the staging of La Liga games abroad from next season would help Spanish soccer compete for foreign revenue with its English and German rivals.

“It would only be one or two games a season, like the NFL or NBA do,” said Tebas.

“If we want to compete with the Premier League or the Bundesliga we have to look for added value,” he said.

“We would look into it deeply before presenting the idea to the clubs, there are legal and social implications and you’d have to look at the hours too,” he said.

“But it’s not a bad idea.”

The 55-year-old Tebas has been in the news of late accusing Qatari-owned French side Paris Saint-Germain of “laughing” at UEFA’s the financial fair play (FFP) system.

The NFL has been staging games in London since 2007, calling those game the ‘International Series’.

The NBA calls its version the Global Games, with two or three matches each season in places such as China, Brazil or France.

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Diego Simeone to complete unfinished business at Atletico Madrid

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Diego Simeone.

Diego Simeone’s love affair with Atletico Madrid is set to continue for another three years after the Argentine renewed his contract till 2020 on Tuesday.

Since taking charge in 2011, Simeone, 47, has transformed the club’s fortunes, turning Atletico from perennial underachievers to serial contenders both domestically and in the Champions League.

However, having lost in agonising fashion twice to local rivals Real Madrid in two Champions League finals, Simeone has turned his back on lucrative offers elsewhere for the challenge of making Atletico champions of Europe for the first time in their history.

Simeone has already delivered five trophies, the highlight of which was ending Real and
Barcelona’s hegemony of Spanish football with a first La Liga title for 18 years in 2013/14.

Yet, the Champions League has continued to allude Los Rojiblancos with Real their conquerors in all four seasons since Simeone led them back into European football’s premier competition.

Atletico were seconds away in the 2014 final before Sergio Ramos’s injury-time header forced extra-time and Real ran out 4-1 winners.

Two years later, penalties were needed to separate the two in Milan in a defeat so painful Simeone described it as a “death”.

Simeone was tempted to walk away last summer. Having initially agreed a contract to 2020 back in 2015, he asked for the deal to be cut by two years till 2018.

That appeared to open the door for an exit with another of his former clubs Inter Milan, freshly flushed with cash thanks to a Chinese takeover, among those interested.

Yet, Simeone now seems set to add stability to a new era for Atletico as they move this season to the new 68,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

“The journalists continually ask me if I am going to stay and yes I am going to stay,” Simeone told his adoring public as Atletico bade an emotional farewell to the Vicente Calderon at the end of last season.

“And do you know why I am going to stay? Because this club has a future and that future is all of us.”

Although still unable to match the financial muscle of Real and Barca, continued success on the field and the stadium move have allowed Atletico to stop having to sell their best players as in the early years of Simeone’s reign.

Antoine Griezmann, Koke and Saul Niguez have all themselves recently signed new contracts.

Despite a ban on registering new players in the recently closed transfer window, Atletico have already completed a deal for Spanish international Vitolo to arrive in January.

Meanwhile, Spanish media have reported Diego Costa’s return to the club from Chelsea was one of Simeone’s demands when negotiating his new deal.

Costa, who was Atletico’s top scorer when they won the title in 2013/14, hasn’t played for the English champions this season due to a fallout with manager Antonio Conte and was left out of the Chelsea’s Champions League squad on Monday.

That is doubly good news for Atletico as they face Chelsea in a tough Champions League group also featuring Roma and a tricky trip to Azerbaijani champions Qarabag.

Costa would also then be free to play for Atletico in Europe should they make it to the last 16 and the Spanish international complete his expected return in January.

His extra firepower could be the final missing piece for Atletico and Simeone to end their long and arduous wait to lift the Champions League come May in Kiev.

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