MX23RW : Friday, May 24 02:32:13| >> :600:13195859:13195859:
Dec 16, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Estadio Ciudad de Valencia (Valencia)
Attendance: 23,736
Levante
0-5
Barcelona

Cabaco (76')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Suarez (35'), Messi (43', 47', 60'), Pique (88')

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 La Liga.

Barcelona will be looking to consolidate first position in La Liga when they travel to Levante on Sunday night.

The Spanish champions currently top the pile entering Week 16 in La Liga, but they have a tough assignment this weekend against a team that sits sixth in the table having enjoyed an impressive campaign to date.


Levante

Levante players celebrate scoring against Real Madrid on October 20, 2018© Reuters

Six wins, four draws and five defeats - that is how Levante have performed in La Liga this season. A total of 22 points has left them in sixth spot in the table, just four points off fourth-placed Real Madrid ahead of Week 16 in La Liga.

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 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 five of their 15 top-flight matches during the 2018-19 campaign.

Only Barcelona (41) and Celta Vigo (28) have scored more league goals than Levante (27) this term, meanwhile, and they have already beaten Real Madrid this season, claiming a 2-1 success at the Bernabeu back in October.

Between September 30 and October 27, Levante won four straight league matches against Alaves, Getafe, Real Madrid and Leganes. Since then, they have been victorious in just one of their five in Spain's top flight, although that win was an impressive 3-0 home success over Athletic Bilbao.

Levante played out an incredible 4-4 draw with Eibar in the league last weekend, meanwhile, and there is no question that they have the tools to upset a Barcelona defence which has been far from secure this season.

Levante finished sixth in La Liga at the end of the 2011-12 campaign, and a positive result this weekend would certainly aid suggestions that they are capable of securing a top-half finish come the end of this season.

Recent form: WDLDWD
Recent form (all competitions): DLDWWD


Barcelona

Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona on November 11, 2018© Reuters

In truth, Barcelona did not really need to break a sweat in La Liga last term. Indeed, the Catalan giants lost just one of their 38 matches, winning 28 times, to storm to the title. They finished 14 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid after proving far too strong for the competition.

Their sole defeat last season came on the penultimate weekend at Levante, however, with the Frogs recording an incredible 5-4 success.

Barcelona again top the table entering the latter stages of 2018, but it has not been plain sailing this term. Indeed, Ernesto Valverde's side have already dropped points in six of their 15 league games this season, drawing four times and suffering two defeats.

The Catalan giants are, unsurprisingly, the leading scorers in the league at this stage with 41 goals, but they have shipped 19 down the other end, which is far from the best record in the division. As Real Betis proved in their 4-3 win at Camp Nou last month, Valverde's team can certainly be scored against.

Barcelona are top of the table, however, and have a three-point lead over second-placed Sevilla and third-placed Atletico Madrid, while they sit five points clear of fourth-placed Real Madrid.

The Spanish champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League during the week, but had already booked their spot in the round of 16 as group winners ahead of the clash with the English club.

Meanwhile, they have been very impressive in their last two league matches, following a 2-0 home success over Villarreal by winning 4-0 at Espanyol last weekend.

Valverde's team have not been perfect in the first half of the 2018-19 campaign, but they are through in both the Champions League and Copa del Rey, and top La Liga ahead of their final two matches of the year against Levante and Celta Vigo.

Recent form: WDLDWD
Recent form (all competitions): DLDWWD


Team News

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez celebrates scoring against Real Madrid in El Clasico on October 28, 2018© Reuters

Levante will once again be without the services of Armando Sadiku (knee), Samu Garcia (knee), Cheick Doukoure (calf) and Pedro Perez (muscle) for the clash with Barcelona.

Head coach Paco Lopez has no fresh injury concerns from the team that drew 4-4 with Eibar last weekend, though.

Jose Luis Morales will once again join Roger Marti in the final third of the field, meaning that on-loan Real Madrid forward Borja Mayoral may have to start on the bench.

Valverde rang the changes for the Champions League tie versus Tottenham, with Luis Suarez left out altogether while the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba were on the bench.

All six will return to the starting XI this weekend, but Samuel Umtiti's ongoing absence with a knee problem will mean that Clement Lenglet will keep his position in central defence.

Valverde has decisions to make further forward, and Arturo Vidal and Philippe Coutinho could both find themselves on the bench.

Indeed, Arthur's return to fitness is expected to see the Brazilian line up alongside Ivan Rakitic and Busquets in midfield.

Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembele continued his excellent form with a cracker against Tottenham, and it seems likely that the France international will form part of the front three with Luis Suarez and Messi.

Rafinha (knee), Sergi Samper (calf), Sergi Roberto (hamstring), Umtiti (knee) and Malcom (ankle) remain on the sidelines for the Spanish champions.

Levante possible starting lineup:
Oier; Cabaco, Suarez, Chema; Tono, Bardhi, Gomez, Rochina, Jason; Marti, Morales

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


Head To Head

As mentioned, Levante recorded a 5-4 win over Barcelona when the two teams met in Valencia on the penultimate weekend of the 2017-18 campaign. The result saw Barcelona's hopes of going the whole season unbeaten come to an end.

The Catalan giants have won five of the last six La Liga meetings between the pair, however, including a 2-0 success away to Levante during the 2015-16 season.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Levante 1-2 Barcelona

Levante have been impressive this season, but Barcelona were excellent away at Espanyol last weekend, and we fancy the Spanish champions to collect another important three points in this match.


Who will win Sunday's La Liga clash between Levante and Barcelona?

Levante
Draw
Barcelona
Levante
0.0%
Draw
4.5%
Barcelona
95.5%
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Barcelona striker Luis Suarez celebrates scoring against Real Madrid in El Clasico on October 28, 2018
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How Barcelona could line up against Levante
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