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Preview: Barcelona vs. Levante - prediction, team news, lineups
26/09/2021 14:28:24

A wounded Barcelona will be looking to return to winning ways in La Liga when they continue their 2021-22 campaign at home to Levante on Sunday afternoon (3:15PM, 26 Sept).


The Catalan giants are currently down in seventh spot in the table, seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, while Levante occupy 16th, having picked up just four points from their opening six matches.


We say: Barcelona 2-1 Levante


Barcelona did not do enough to beat either Granada or Cadiz, but we think that they will just get over the line here. Levante are capable of making it a tricky contest for the Catalan outfit, but the superior quality in the home side's XI should just about shine through to secure an important three points.


Match preview


Barcelona are still unbeaten in La Liga this season but have won just two of their five matches, and a total of nine points has left them in seventh position in the table, already seven points behind league leaders Real Madrid, albeit with a game in hand on their bitter rivals.


The club's supporters would have been expecting wins over Granada and Cadiz on September 20 and September 23 respectively, but Ronald Koeman's side were held to a 1-1 draw by the former before playing out a 0-0 with the latter on Thursday night.


There is simply no downplaying the importance of Sunday's contest, particularly as Barcelona face a trip to Wanda Metropolitano to tackle champions Atletico Madrid in their final match before the international break; it is not as if it gets any easier, though, with their two games immediately after the international fixtures coming against a revitalised Valencia and a certain Real Madrid.


Koeman's job appears safe for now despite the team's disappointing form, but there will be huge pressure on the Dutchman to pick up a positive result against Benfica in the Champions League next week, as the Catalan side suffered a 3-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich in their Group E opener on September 14.


Blaugrana have won four of their last six league meetings with Levante, but they were held to a 3-3 draw when the two teams last locked horns in May, and this is not a classic Barcelona team by any stretch.


Levante will certainly believe that they have the tools to harm Barcelona this weekend, but Paco Lopez's side are still searching for their first La Liga victory of the 2021-22 campaign.


Indeed, a record of four draws and two defeats from six matches has brought them four points, which is only good enough for 16th position at this stage, just one point outside of the relegation zone.


Levante have already taken points off Real Madrid this season - playing out a 3-3 draw with the league leaders on August 22 - but the visitors will enter Sunday's clash at Camp Nou off the back of a disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Celta Vigo, who scored twice in the second half through Iago Aspas and Brais Mendez.


The Frogs have finished 15th, 15th, 12th and 14th in their four seasons since returning to this level, and it would not be a surprise to see them claim a similar spot at the end of this campaign.


The fact that they are yet to win in the league this season is slightly concerning, but the quality of the performances have been good enough to suggest that the first victory is not too far away.


Team News


Barcelona are hoping to welcome Ansu Fati back into their squad this weekend, with the Spain international - out for more than 10 months due to a long-term knee injury - expected to be chosen providing that he comes through Saturday morning's training session.


The hosts still have a number of injury problems, though, with Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero, Pedri, Jordi Alba and Martin Braithwaite definitely out of the contest, while Alejandro Balde remains a doubt due to a back issue.


Barcelona will also be without Frenkie de Jong following his red card against Cadiz on Thursday, meaning that Sergi Roberto could play in the middle of the park alongside Gavi and Sergio Busquets.


Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay are likely to continue in the final third, but there could be an alteration in attack, with Philippe Coutinho potentially coming in for Yusuf Demir.


As for Levante, Roberto Soldado, Enis Bardhi and Jose Campana will all miss the contest through injury, while a calf problem is likely to keep Mickael Malsa on the sidelines.


Jorge de Frutos came off the bench in the second half of the defeat to Celta, and the Spaniard is now expected to be introduced into the starting XI, with Lopez considering changing his set up.


It would not be a surprise to see the visitors line up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Jose Luis Morales operating alongside Roger Marti in the final third of the field.


Gonzalo Melero is also pushing to be involved from the start, as Lopez prepares to freshen his side following the disappointing reverse at home to Celta.


Barcelona possible starting lineup:

Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Pique, Dest; Gavi, Busquets, Roberto; Coutinho, L de Jong, Memphis


Levante possible starting lineup:

Fernandez; Miramon, Duarte, Mustafi, Clerc; De Frutos, Martinez, Radoja, Melero; Marti, Morales

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