Preview: Levante v Barcelona

Messi Barcelona

In-form Levante may feel they have every chance of ending Barcelona’s unbeaten La Liga season in Sunday’s clash at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia.

La Liga
13 May 2018
Gameweek 37
Kick-off: 20:45 local time/02:45 HKT
Venue: Estadio Ciudad de Valencia

Referee: M. Melero
Assistants: M. Torre, J. Martinez
Fourth official: A. Sanchez

Head-to-head summary

Levante 21 0 4 17
Barcelona 21 17 4 0

Previous encounter

Barcelona 3-0 Levante (07/01/18) La Liga

Barcelona scorers: L. Messi (12′), L. Suarez (38′), Paulinho (90’+3)

Players to watch

Having scored nine league goals in 2017/18, including three strikes in his last three appearances, Jose Luis Morales is enjoying a superb campaign for the outfit from Valencia.

The 30-year-old will no doubt look to enhance his reputation by getting his name on the scoreline against the Catalan giants.

While Lionel Messi has all but wrapped up the Pichichi with 34 goals in the league, Luis Suarez will be motivated to give Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo a run for his money in second place.

The Uruguayan striker is on 24 strikes which is one behind Ronaldo in the Spanish top flight. Having scored against Granotas in the first round in January, the 31-year-old will be keen to repeat the dose on Sunday.

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Team form and manager quotes

Levante manager Paco Lopez has overseen a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes since he took over from Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz in March. Levante have tasted defeat just once and are on a four-match winning streak in the league.

They are safe from relegation in 16th spot and Lopez spoke of his side’s improvement, telling reporters: “It was important to change the dynamics but I don’t know what changed so much. What we have is attitude and commitment and that has been the key.”

Meanwhile, the Blaugrana are just two fixtures away from achieving an amazing feat. They have already secured the domestic double after beating Sevilla 5-0 in the Copa del Rey final.

Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde discussed the winning culture expected at the Camp Nou, saying: “In this club you are expected to win everything. We have not won everything but it is also true we had difficulties at the start of the season and we have exceeded many expectations.

“We had a terrible day in Rome in the Champions League and that has hung over us. But still, it has been a great season.”

Team news

For the hosts, Raul Fernandez, Alex Alegria, Ivan Lopez, Cheick Doukoure and Tono are expected to remain out with injury, although the majority of the team that beat Leganes 3-0 in the last match should be available.

Sergi Roberto is suspended for the visitors, while Jose Arnaiz remains out with a long-term injury.