Camp Nou, Barcelona
Sunday 20th Sept. 2015, 1830 GMT
FC Barcelona take on Levante hoping to extend their 100% record in La Liga having beaten Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon last weekend as they prepare for three games in the space of six days.
The Blaugrana’s injury crisis further deepened with Rafinha suffering from a torn ACL in midweek against Roma following a poor challenge from Radja Nainggolan as Barca drew 1-1 in Rome.
An away trip in the Champions League can cause tiredness and the players can tend to just lack that bit of sharpness, especially if the game is not a big one. Barcelona will need to dig deep to beat a Levante side that is defensively sound and hard to break down.
FC Barcelona Team News & Tactics
Barcelona will be without Thomas Vermaelen as well as Rafinha who have joined the long unavailable player list at the Camp Nou that includes Gerard Pique (suspended), Claudio Bravo, Douglas (both injured), Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal (both not registered).
However, there was some good news for the Blaugrana faithful as manager Luis Enrique confirmed that Dani Alves is in contention to play on Sunday having recovered from the injury that has kept him sidelined from the opening day of their La Liga campaign.
Barcelona will play Jeremy Mathieu alongside Javier Mascherano in the central defence in a 4-3-3 formation that will have the front three of Neymar, Messi, Suarez being assisted by a midfield trio of Busquets, Iniesta and Rakitic. The defence will be completed by Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto on the left and right of the defence, respectively, with Ter Stagen to continue in goal in the absence of Bravo.
FC Barcelona predicted XI (4-3-3): Ter Stagen, Roberto, Alba, Mascherano, Mathieu, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Suarez, Neymar, Messi
Levante Team News & Tactics
Levante have been playing with a back five formation and are expected to continue to play the 5-3-2 that will ensure they are hard to break down at Camp Nou. Lucas Alcaraz’s side will be hoping to take advantage of any tiredness in the Blaugrana rank and with Enrique not being able to freshen up his team due to players being unavailable, Levante will fancy their chances.
Levante are yet to record a win in La Liga, but have an almost full squad to chose from. They are expected to play with goalkeeper Ruben Martinez and a back five consisting of Juanfran, Trujillo, Feddal, Lopez and Tono. Mari, Verza and Camaraza will be given the task of stopping the Barcelona midfield. In attack, Deyvorson and Ghilas will be hoping to put to use any chances that may fall their way.
Levante Predicted XI (5-3-2): Martinez, Juanfran, Trujillo,Feddal, Lopez, Tono, Mari, Verza, Camaraza, Deyvorson, Ghilas
Man to watch: Lionel Messi
While the Argentine has been superb for Barcelona, so far, he has scored just once in La Liga — the late winner at Atletico Madrid. After Cristiano Ronaldo got ahead of him in the Pichichi race early on, Messi would be looking to keep up with the Portuguese. And there was all the indication that the superstar was up for the game despite the trip to Rome, as he turned up on the training ground a day after the Champions League tie despite manager Luis Enrique declaring a day off for everyone.
- Barcelona have scored at least 4 goals in their last 4 matches against Levante in all competitions.
- Barcelona have won their last 10 home matches against Levante in all competitions.
- Levante have failed to win their last 7 matches in La Liga
- Barcelona have won with a 1-goal margin in their last 3 matches in La Liga.
Barcelona 4-0 Levante
Barcelona beat Levante 5-0 in the corresponding fixture last season with Luis Suarez scoring a stunning overhead kick (video below). Expect the Blaugrana, turbo charged with Lionel Messi looking to chase down Ronaldo, rip apart the Levante defence once again with wave after wave of attack. One can see the game going in only one direction– that of a comfortable Barcelona win.