Samuel Umtiti could be in contention to start when Barcelona play hosts to Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday evening.
Barcelona’s title challenge could be at stake as they welcome Levante in a crucial match-up in LaLiga on Sunday evening. It is a must-win game for Ronald Koeman’s men, who were helped by Real Madrid’s triumph over Atletico Madrid in El Derbi on Saturday.
However, the club’s poor run of form – notably a 3-0 loss to Juventus earlier this week – means the momentum is against them. And, it won’t be surprising to see Koeman making a few changes to the side that took a heavy beating at the hands of the Italian champions.
Although Barcelona are missing Gerard Pique in defence, it appears Samuel Umtiti could finally get a rare opportunity to start against Levante. The Frenchman could potentially feature alongside Clement Lenglet at the heart of Barcelona’s four-man backline, with Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest operating as the full-backs.
There could be a few changes in midfield as well, with Riqui Puig, in particular, pushing for a start following an excellent display against Juventus in the midweek fixture. During his pre-match press conference, Koeman even acknowledged the performances of the young midfielder in recent matches, while simultaneously justifying his treatment of the player.
“Riqui Puig has done well in the last matches. It depends on the performance of the players looking for the best eleven. We will see what can happen tomorrow,” said the Barcelona boss when asked about Puig, who is likely to operate in midfield, alongside Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong.
Busquets was benched against Juventus, in favour of Miralem Pjanic so he will definitely have a point to prove against Levante as Barcelona look to get back to winning ways.
Meanwhile, Puig starting in midfield essentially means Barca could shift to a 4-3-3 setup, where Lionel Messi could be allowed to play on the right wing. The Argentine will be hoping to replicate his performance against Juventus, though he certainly needs to improve on his productivity.
Elsewhere, Philippe Coutinho was a doubt heading into this game, but the Brazilian has recovered in time and is in contention of starting against Levante. He should get the nod ahead of Antoine Griezmann and Pedri on the left wing while the Barcelona attack should be spearheaded by Martin Brathwaite.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Dest, Umtiti, Lenglet, Alba; Puig, Busquets, de Jong; Messi, Brathwaite, Coutinho