MX23RW : Wednesday, January 16 00:59:44
Jan 10, 2019 at 8.30pm UK at ​Estadio Ciudad de Valencia (Valencia)
Attendance: 17,614
Levante
2-1
Barcelona
Cabaco (4'), Mayoral (18')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Coutinho (85' pen.)

Preview: Levante vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Barcelona's trip to Levante in the last-16 stage of the Copa del Rey.

Barcelona will be looking to secure an advantage when they travel to Levante for the first leg of their last-16 Copa del Rey tie on Thursday night.

Barcelona won their 30th Copa del Rey title last season and will fancy their chances of overcoming a Levante team that has not progressed past this stage of the competition since 2014.


Levante

Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona against Levante on December 16, 2018.© Reuters

Promoted from the Segunda Division as winners in 2017, Levante earned another season of La Liga football by finishing 15th in the top flight last term. The Frogs have now been present in eight of the last nine La Liga campaigns and will be looking to secure another season of top-flight action.

There is no question that the Valencia-based outfit have been performing above expectations in La Liga this term, having lost just seven of their 18 top-flight matches during the 2018-19 campaign to sit in 10th spot in the table.

That said, Levante suffered a 5-0 home defeat to Barcelona in their penultimate La Liga match of 2018. These two teams will be locking horns in the Copa del Rey for the first time in four years, but the the last time did not end well for Levante, who were thumped 9-2 on aggregate by the Catalan giants.

It will not come as a surprise to learn that Levante have never won the Copa del Rey, while they have not been past the quarter-finals since 1935. Facing Barcelona at this stage of the competition is not exactly ideal, but a positive result in the first leg on home soil would certainly make things interesting ahead of the return at Camp Nou.

Paco Lopez's side beat Lugo in the round of 32 to progress to this stage and they will enter the clash with Barcelona off the back of a 2-2 draw at home to Girona in the league on January 4.

Levante are currently on a four-game winless run in all competitions and as mentioned, that includes a 5-0 home defeat to Barcelona in La Liga on December 16. The Frogs actually played quite well for periods of the match, but Barcelona were at their clinical best to claim all the points with an emphatic win.

Levante have a recent home victory over Barca to their name though, recording a 5-4 win at the end back end of last season.

Recent form: WDWLDW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDLLD


Barcelona

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez celebrates scoring against Getafe on January 6, 2019.© Reuters

Barcelona landed their 30th Copa del Rey crown last season and have been utterly dominant in this competition in recent years. Indeed, the Catalan giants have lifted the trophy in each of the last four campaigns and have been present in all but one of the last eight finals, which is some record.

They have beaten Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla (twice) and Alaves in the last four finals, with their last defeat occurring in the 2014 final against Real Madrid. It has almost been the go-to competition for the Catalan giants in recent years, but they will be desperate to land yet another crown.

Ernesto Valverde's side had no problems overcoming Cultural Leonesa in the last round, ultimately running out 5-1 aggregate winners to advance to the last-16 stage of the competition once again.

Barcelona are also through to the last-16 stage of the Champions League, while they have won their last five La Liga matches to open up a five-point lead at the top of the table. Getafe gave Valverde's team a tough match on Sunday night, but the champions recorded a 2-1 victory to continue their excellent form.

Barcelona are going to take some stopping in La Liga this season, but there is no question that the Catalan giants would trade another Copa del Rey title in for the Champions League. The Spaniards will face Lyon over two legs in the round of 16 next month and have a lot of wrongs to put right in that competition.

The Champions League is for February, however, and Barcelona's current focus will be on picking up a first-leg advantage on Thursday night before making it six league wins in a row against Eibar at Camp Nou this weekend.

The majority of Barcelona's big players appear to be hitting form at just the right time and it would not be a surprise to see the Catalan giants make a strong challenge for the treble this season.

Recent form: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWWW


Team News

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring against Real Madrid in El Clasico on October 28, 2018© Reuters

Armando Sadiku, Cheick Doukoure and Pedro Lopez are all still unavailable for Levante, but head coach Lopez has no injury concerns from the team that drew against Girona at the weekend.

On-loan Real Madrid forward Borja Mayoral is pushing for a start, while Emmanuel Boateng, Moses Simon and Aitor Fernandez should be handed opportunities to impress.

Rafinha, Sergi Samper, Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen remain on the sidelines for Barcelona, but Sergi Roberto came through the clash with Getafe unscathed following a hamstring problem.

It seems likely that Nelson Semedo will return at right-back for this match, however, while the likes of Carles Alena, Philippe Coutinho and Malcom should be handed starts on Thursday night.

Denis Suarez's involvement is unclear, however, with the Spaniard currently being linked with Arsenal.

Oriol Busquets, Juan Miranda and Chumi Brandariz are among the youngsters hoping to be involved for Barcelona, while recent arrival from Valencia Jeison Murillo could make his debut.

Levante possible starting lineup:
Aitor; Coke, Cabaco, Rober, Luna; Mayoral, Prcic, Vukcevic, Simon; Boateng, Dwamena

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Cillessen; Semedo, Chumi, Murillo, Miranda; Oriol Busquets, Alena, Arthur; Malcom, L Suarez, Coutinho


Head To Head

As mentioned, Barcelona ran out 5-0 winners when they travelled to Levante in the league on December 16, but the Frogs did record a 5-4 victory when the pair met in Valencia last season.

Barcelona have won six of the last seven La Liga meetings, however, and recorded a 9-2 aggregate victory when the two teams last locked horns in the Copa del Rey back in 2014.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Levante 1-2 Barcelona

Both managers will make changes for the clash on Thursday night, but we expect Barcelona to secure a first-leg advantage in the last-16 tie.


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Who will win Thursday's Copa del Rey clash between Levante and Barcelona?

Levante
Draw
Barcelona
Levante
10.3%
Draw
6.4%
Barcelona
83.3%
Ousmane Dembele in action for Barcelona on December 2, 2018
Read Next:
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona19134253203343
2Atletico MadridAtletico19108127131438
3Sevilla1996431201133
4Real Madrid1910362824433
5AlavesAlaves199552219332
6Getafe197752116528
7Real Betis197572223-126
8Real Sociedad197482322125
9GironaGirona195952123-224
10Espanyol197392127-624
11Valencia1941141717023
12Levante196583035-523
13Athletic Bilbao1941052025-522
14EibarEibar195772128-722
15Leganes195771721-422
16Real Valladolid195771721-422
17Celta Vigo195683132-121
18Rayo Vallecano1954102234-1219
19Villarreal193882025-517
20Huesca1925121736-1911

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