Camp Nou, Barcelona
Sunday 15th Feb, 2015, 17:00 CET
FC Barcelona will look to continue their winning streak of 10 straight games when they host 18th placed Levante today.
FC Barcelona have recovered well from the series of setbacks they received in the latter of of 2014 and early 2015 as they have secured 10 victories in as many games, which includes 5 wins in La Liga.
Meanwhile, every new game is an opportunity for Levante UD to save themselves from relegation as Lucas Alcaraza s men are struggling at 18th position in La Liga as they have secured just 19 points from their 22 games of this season so far.
FC Barcelona were struggling in every area of the pitch in the latter half of 2014. The duo of Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique was badly struggling for form at the heart of the defence while their midfield, considered as the biggest strength of the Catalans, was finding it difficult to dominate the game. The poor run of Luis Suarez and the spat between Leo Messi and Luis Enrique also did not help their cause either.
However, the players of FC Barcelona seemed to have recovered from these setbacks as they have won 10 consecutive games and just one point away from league leaders Real Madrid.
FC Barcelona secured a big injury blow on Saturday as midfielder Andres Iniesta was infected with a flu and he remains a doubt for todaya s encounter. However, apart from Iniesta there are no other injury concerns for coach Luis Enrique.
This game will be a historic moment for star striker Leo Messi as it will be his 300th appearance for the Blaugrana. Messi has scored 266, which is a record, ever since his debut in 2004 for FC Barcelona.
Going into this fixture, FC Barcelona coach Luis Enrique will be confident of securing all three points against Levante as the visitors are struggling badly in La Liga this season. Four of the last five meetings of FC Barcelona with Levante have ended in wins, with the Catalans scoring 22 goals across those fixtures. But speaking in a press conference ahead of tonighta s match, Luis Enrique warned his players of complecacy and asked them to always remain on alert.
a We are in fine form, but I never trust teams that are in a delicate situation,a said Luis Enrique
a Ita s a banana skin, no doubt about it. We need intensity in every game. Football is an odd game because a team that doesna t attack can end up winninga .
a We will need to be fully focused and go out in search of the win from the very first minutea .
a It will be hard, wea ll face difficulties. Levante defend very well and are a physically powerful sidea .
a Whatever team I pick, I can assure you ita ll be a great one that can offer solid guarantees of victorya .
FC Barcelonaa s attacking trio of Leo Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez is looking in excellent touch since past few matches and when asked about the same, Luis Enrique said that the attack of Blaugrana is best in the world.
a Positionally, we have the best team in the world. We are quite used to playing against tightly packed defences. Thata s part of our legacy. I dona t think there is any team in the world that can match us in terms of resources for dealing with situations like thata .
Predicted Starting XI (4-3-3): Bravo, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Buqsuetes, Xavi; Suarez, Messi, Neymar
Levante are struggling badly in La Liga this season as the Valencia based side is fighting the battle of relegation. And the game against FC Barcelona could prove a daunting task ahead of coach Lucas Alcaraza s players as it looks almost impossible for them to end the winning streak of the Catalans.
Levante made their debut in La Liga in 2010. They made an instant impression with their spirited displays against the bigger teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Levante even qualified for the European football in the following season but their joys have short lived it seems as they are now fighting to avoid the relegation.
Levante have secured just 1 win from their past 9 games and it came on last weekend when they beat Malaga by 4-1. But the encounter against FC Barcelona is a different ball game altogether and coach Lucas Alcaraz is well aware of this fact.
Levante coach Lucas Alcaraz has described the challenge posed by FC Barcelona as a a blessed problem”, adding: a Stopping (Lionel) Messi, Neymar and (Luis) Suarez?
a I hope Levante have that kind of problem many times – every year that we go to Barcelona, and other opponents like Real Madrid.”
a The team have always worked well. The mood is elevated by victory, although I’ve never seen the team really down.”
Predicted Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Jesus; Lopez, Lodas, Juanfran, Tono; Camarasa, El Adoua; Xumetra, El Zhar, Gavilan; Rafael Martins
Player To Watch Out For
Leo Messi has scored 11 goals in his past 10 games for FC Barcelona. This will be a special game for the Argentine captain as it will be his 300th appearance for the Catalans, and he would be looking to celebrate this historic moment by scoring against Levante today.
FC Barcelona 4-0 Levante UD
FC Barcelona are looking good in every department of the game and the same is evident from their latest results. On the contrary, Levante look almost certain to get relegate next season and they are not expected to pose a serious challenge against in form FC Barcelona today.
Blast From The Past