At 30.6 years, Levante have the oldest starting XI in La Liga. Their defence has conceded just three goals this season despite an average age of 34. Much like Malaga they are benefiting from the professional approach adopted by their older players. In an interview with Reuters, Rafael Plaza, head of the Valencian club’s medical services, considers a high average age in a squad ‘a headstart on many factors’.
“An ageing squad does carry an increased risk of injury, but it also provides experience and a knowledge of how to handle their bodies,” pointed out the Levante club doctor.
Given the example (below) of captain Sergio Ballesteros, who at 36 out-sprinted Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ciutat de Valencia last month, it is easy to see why Plaza’s confidence in the physical condition of his players is justified.
“Ballesteros knows exactly when to use his speed,” praised Plaza. “Footballers like him, Juanfran or Javi Venta stand out because they take very good care of their bodies. They tell me ‘I adapt’ and I have great confidence in them. The only thing I avoid is leaving them untreated. In older people you need to address any injuries which crop up, for example to prevent the muscles from wasting in ankle injuries.”
In addition to the professional attitude of los Granotes, the arrival of current Coach Juan Ignacio Martinez has seen a transformation in the training philosophy. The approach has been adapted to meet the needs of their veteran players.
“With Luis Garcia Plaza, the training was more explosive and intense,” compared Plaza. “With Juan Ignacio, it is calmer and longer with reduced intensity. In terms of muscular problems, things are going much better.”
So far this season only Juanfran and Javier Farin