Lionel Messi doesn't play for Barcelona, unbeaten record capitulates
This was not in the script.
Barcelona regained the La Liga title two weeks ago when they beat Deportivo La Coruña 4-2, but they weren't planning on taking their foot off the gas for the final few games of the season. There was a very real possibility that they could become the first team to ever go a full season unbeaten in Spain. And they came so close.
With Lionel Messi out of the squad on Sunday, Levante saw an opportunity to get at a Barça team who too often rely on the Argentinian's magic to see them through tough moments. But they would't have predicted what happened, as they beat the champions by the odd goal in nine in a chaotic match full of twists and turns.
That's right, Levante 5-4 Barcelona.
Levante went 2-0 up within half an hour before Philippe Coutinho pulled one back. But the hosts did not settle for that lead, pushing forward again and again, scoring three more goals, leading Barça 5-1 with 35 minutes remaining. Barça had a mountain to climb, but yet again they almost reached the summit.
Philippe Coutinho took on the burden of leading the attacks, scoring a hat-trick, including two spectacular strikes, and almost forced an equaliser for the visitors to make it 5-5. Almost.
This thrilling encounter featured 30 fouls, 12 cards, and nine goals. To think, some people call this league boring and uncompetitive.
This result brings Barcelona's 43-game (seven games at the end of last season and 36 this season) unbeaten run to an end and prevents them from becoming the first ever Spanish team to claim the title of The Invincibles.
It was never going to be easy, though, with Levante in a rich vein of form. This win was their eighth in their last ten matches under Paco Jemez, an incredible record considering they only won two of their first nine home games this season.
Before the game, Jemez explained in his press conference that "it would be historic for us to beat Barcelona."
Well, they just went and made history.