MX23RW : Sunday, May 26 00:49:36| >> :600:2599570:2599570:
Apr 27, 2019 at 7.45pm UK at ​Camp Nou (Barcelona)
Attendance: 91,917
Barcelona
1-0
Levante
Messi (62')
FT(HT: 0-0)

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

Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Levante, including team news and predicted lineups.

Barcelona could already be crowned La Liga champions by the time that they take to the field for Saturday night's clash with Levante at Camp Nou.

Indeed, Ernesto Valverde's side currently sit nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid with four games left. As a result, should Atletico lose against Real Valladolid on Saturday afternoon then Barca would win the title before kickoff in Catalonia.


Barcelona

Barcelona's Carles Alena celebrates scoring their first goal against Alaves on April 23, 2019© Reuters

Barca have been, by some distance, the best side in La Liga this season. The table rarely paints a false picture and the fact that the Catalan giants are so comfortable at the summit is testament to the work that Valverde has done.

A record of 24 wins, eight draws and two defeats has brought 80 points, leaving them nine points clear of second-placed Atletico with four games left. Even if Atletico manage to beat Valladolid on Saturday afternoon then a win against Levante would see Barca land the Spanish title for a 26th time.

Valverde's side drew 0-0 at Huesca in the league just before the second leg of their Champions League semi-final with Manchester United but have beaten Real Sociedad and Alaves in their last two. In terms of what is ahead, Barca have Celta Vigo, Getafe and Eibar in La Liga and then potentially another four matches.

Three games are guaranteed as they face Liverpool over two legs of a Champions League semi-final, in addition to Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey at the end of May. It could be a famous season for Barca as they chase a treble and there is absolutely no question that they are good enough to land all three.

It will certainly be very interesting to see how Valverde approaches this game when considering that Liverpool will visit Camp Nou for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night.

The fact that Barca are so comfortable in the league and Liverpool are not must hand the Spanish side an advantage heading into the first leg, where they will be looking to secure an advantage ahead of the return match at Anfield on May 7.

It goes without saying that Barca's squad is packed full of talent, but they would not be in a position to win a treble without Lionel Messi, who has scored 45 times in all competitions for the club this season. It has not been the Argentine's best ever campaign in terms of goals, but he has been absolutely outstanding once again.

Barca will be crowned La Liga champions for the 2018-19 campaign regardless of whether it happens this weekend, but it would certainly be special to secure the trophy in front of their own fans ahead of the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

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


Levante

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior in action with Levante's Moses Simon in La Liga on February 24, 2019© Reuters

Ahead of Wednesday's clash with Real Betis, Levante were 18th in the table. Confidence would have been low following a run of nine games without a win, but they recorded a huge 4-0 win over the Seville outfit to rise into 14th spot.

Levante are not out of the woods as just three points separates them from the bottom three, but the result against Betis was huge, particularly ahead of what is going to be a very tough game at Camp Nou on Saturday night.

Promoted from the Segunda Division as winners in 2017, Levante secured another season of La Liga football by finishing 15th in the top flight last term. The Valencia-based outfit have now been present in eight of the last nine La Liga campaigns, which is an indication of their credentials.

Meanwhile, in Jose Luis Morales, Levante have one of the most exciting forwards in the league. The 31-year-old has 11 La Liga goals to his name this season and is certainly capable of causing Barca's back four a lot of problems this weekend.

Levante's away form this season has not actually been too bad in relation to the teams around them. Indeed, they have avoided defeat in eight of their 17 La Liga games on their travels during the 2018-19 campaign.

In terms of what is ahead, Paco Lopez's side will host Rayo Vallecano next weekend, before travelling to Girona and hosting Atletico in their final two matches of the season. The win over Betis was huge, but the team's job is not finished when it comes to avoiding relegation.

This weekend will actually bring the fourth meeting between Levante and Barca this season – Levante won the first leg of their Copa del Rey clash on home soil back in January, but lost on both trips to Camp Nou.

Recent form: DLDLDW


Team News

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Manchester United in the Champions League on April 16, 2019© Reuters

It is difficult to determine exactly what Valverde has in mind ahead of the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Liverpool next week.

Messi and Jordi Alba were named on the bench against Alaves on Tuesday night, but it seems likely that both will return to the starting XI for this one.

Ousmane Dembele might be protected as he builds back to full fitness following a spell on the sidelines, which could mean a start for Philippe Coutinho. Clement Lenglet and Arthur could also return to the side, but Carles Alena scored in the win over Alaves and will be hoping to keep his spot in midfield.

As for Levante, Ruben Rochina is back from the suspension that forced him to miss the clash with Betis, but Cheick Doukoure and Sergio Postigo remain on the sidelines for the away side.

Roger Marti was again left on the bench against Betis, but the Spaniard could return to play alongside Morales in the final third, with Borja Mayoral potentially dropping to the bench.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Arthur, Busquets, Vidal; Coutinho, L Suarez, Messi

Levante possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Coke, Nunes, Rober, Garcia; Bardhi, Vukcevic, Gomez; Morales, Marti, Jason


Head To Head

As mentioned above, the two teams have already met on three occasions this season. Barca won 5-0 in the reverse league game, while they ran out 4-2 winners in their Copa del Rey two-legged affair back in January.

Levante actually beat Barca 5-4 in an incredible game at the end of last season, but the Valencia-based club have conceded 19 goals on their last four La Liga trips to Camp Nou, which have all ended in defeats.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Barcelona 2-0 Levante

It is difficult to predict anything other than a home win this weekend. Levante had an excellent win on Wednesday night but will find it extremely difficult to overcome the Catalan giants.


Who will win Saturday's clash between Barcelona and Levante?

Barcelona
Draw
Levante
Barcelona
95.7%
Draw
4.3%
Levante
0.0%
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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde pictured on November 24, 2018
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