Alessio Lisci’s Levante side are staring relegation at the end of the season if they don’t overcome their teams losing stint or improve their lot in La Liga.
After the stalemate against Frankfurt Eintracht on Thursday, and with the return leg billed for this week, Barca may look at resting certain key players. However, with Atletico Madrid’s loss and Sevilla now back in 2nd position (pending Barca’s fixture), Xavi has a lot going on for him this weekend.
FC Barcelona have enjoyed an amazing away run of form in La Liga this season, and dispatched Real Madrid with 0-4 in their last none home match in La Liga. But, against a Levante side that has proved to be stubborn for the Catalans in recent times, what happens next?
Since Lisci’s appointment in December, Levante has played with a five-man defence. The formation includes three centre-backs and two full-backs who mostly push up on the wings.
We expect Xavi Hernandez to start almost the same line up that was fielded against Frankfurt Eintracht but with a little tweak.
Given the upcoming game, Xavi may opt to start Andre Ter Stegen in goal while Pique’s injury means Clement Lenglet will likely pair with Eric Garcia in centre back and Araujo gets rested. Due to his no inclusion in the Europa League, Dani Alves should get the nod to start at right back for the Catalans while Jordi Alba retains the left back starting spot.
Although unlikely, Busquets may be rested while Gavi, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong may probably start in midfield to give the veteran some rest ahead of the Europa League quarter final second leg decider at Nou Camp.
Memphis Depay would have gotten the nod to start today, but he just returned from injury and will not be starting. Luuk de Jong has fought off Covid-19 and is likely to be part of the match day squad and may likely get minutes later, but won’t start the game.
We expect Xavi to field Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres and Adama Traore in attack again this weekend.
•Levante previous games: WLDLW
Levante 2-0 Villarreal | La Liga
Osasuna 3-1 Levante | La Liga
Levante 1-1 Espanyol | La Liga
Athletic Club 3-1 Levante | La Liga
Levante 3-0 Elche | La Liga
•Barcelona’s previous games: WWWWD
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Barcelona | UEFA Europa League
Barcelona 1-0 Sevilla | La Liga
Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona | La Liga
Galatasaray 1-2 Barcelona | UEFA Europa League
Barcelona 4-0 Osasuna | La Liga
Probable Barcelona lineup: Ter Stegen; Alves, Garcia, Lenglet, Alba; Pedri, Frenkie, Gavi; Traore, F. Torres, Aubameyang.
After 30 games in La Liga, Levante have conceded 58 goals whilst scoring only 33 (10% conversion rate). This means that Barca can expect to see a mixed game today irrespective of where Levante currently sit on the table.
Although Barca may be the favourites to win, they have not defeated Levante away from home in their last two tries. Will third time be the charm? We will find out after full time today.