After a chaotic few days in Catalonia, Ronald Koeman will look to steady the ship and get back to winning ways when Barcelona welcome Levante to the Camp Nou in La Liga on Sunday (8pm kick-off).
The Blaugrana were at sixes and sevens last weekend as newly-promoted Cadiz pulled off an unexpected giant-killing, piling the pressure on summer appointment Koeman, who was on the wrong end of a 3-0 battering by Juventus just three days later. He will now look to stem the flow of Barca’s ill-fortune when Levante come to town, but Paco Lopez’s side are unbeaten in six La Liga games.
Where to watch Barcelona vs Levante on TV:
- UK: LaLigaTV
- US: beIN SPORTS
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Scoreline prediction: Barcelona 3-1 Levante
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Barcelona vs Levante build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
It was a night to forget for Koeman as Gianluigi Buffon rolled back the years to subdue Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 19th and 20th goals against Barca in a comprehensive 3-0 thrashing, which ensured Juve leapfrogged the Catalans in Group G of the Champions League.
This was not an isolated incident, though, with Barca proving equally as poor in La Liga, losing to newly-promoted Cadiz on their travels last time out and currently sitting in ninth position, some 12 points behind early table-toppers Atletico Madrid. Koeman will be desperate for a response this weekend.
Their opponents come in the form of Levante who, despite sitting just inside the relegation zone, are unbeaten in six games, with five of those by way of draws. The Frogs have a strong record against Barca in recent times, winning two of the last five games, which includes a 5-4 triumph in May 2018.
- Barcelona (vs Juventus): Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Pjanic, De Jong; Trincao, Messi, Pedri; Griezmann.
- Levante (vs Getafe): Fernandez; Coke, Postigo, Vezo, Clerc; Rochina, Vukcevic, Melero, De Frutos; Gomez, Marti.
Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati all remain sidelined for Koeman, while Ousmane Dembele is a major doubt. As for the visitors they will travel to Catalonia without Cheick Doukoure, Jose Campana and Enis Bardhi.
Players to watch:
- Barcelona: Such is the malaise surrounding Barca at this present moment in time that Koeman will need a player he can rely on to deliver the goods and haul his side out of the trouble they currently find themselves in. And they don’t come much more reliable than Lionel Messi. Despite his future still being up in the air, he remains dedicated to the club and a world-class operator, particularly in this fixture. Indeed Messi has been directly involved in at least one goal in each of his last nine La Liga games against Levante (12 goals, 10 assists), and Koeman could really do with his skipper mirroring those exploits this weekend.
- Levante: The Valencian club have had mixed fortunes this term, losing just four games, which is the same as Barcelona, as well as carving out a six-game unbeaten run, but they are currently lurking in the relegation zone and face an uphill battle this weekend. Barca are unbeaten in their last 12 home La Liga games against Valencian sides, which makes for grim viewing for those of a Levante persuasion, but one player who will be relishing this contest is former academy graduate Ruben Rochina. The mercurial midfielder blew hot and cold in the Premier League with Blackburn, impressing one week with his skill and vision before going missing the next game. Now at Levante, he has the required skill-set to pose a threat this weekend, and given the current form of Barca, he is a player who could capitalise on the host’s vulnerability at the minute.
La Liga 2020/21 recent form:
- Barcelona: LWLWD
- Levante: WDDDD
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