Levante missed an opportunity to return to fourth place in the standings as they were beaten by Sporting Gijon, but los Granotas are, nonetheless, optimistic about their chances against Barcelona. The Catalans eased off to a victory over Getafe, but they could face a tough task at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia.
Levante still not slowing down
Before the season started Levante were seen as one of the main candidates for the drop, but los Granotas quickly showed they have no intention of lingering in the danger zone. The team enjoyed a brilliant start to the season, having won seven straight games following opening draws against Getafe and Racing, and even if nobody believed los Granotas would be able to keep the good league position for much longer, the reality is Levante are one of the main candidates for the final Champions League berth. One look at Juan Ignacio Martinez’ squad will tell you that they are a team of seasoned La Liga players and it is their wealth of experience that has helped the team cope with much stronger opponents this season. Levante are especially impressive at their Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, where they have beaten Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Malaga, so Barcelona can underestimate them at their peril.
Arouna Kone, Francisco Javier Farinos and Javi Venta all missed training on Thursday, but they are expected to recover in time to face Barcelona.
Ten La Liga victories in a row
Barcelona may have trailed Real Madrid from the very start to the season, but the Catalans never really gave up and are now being rewarded for their efforts. The ten-point gap behind their arch rivals that was in place few weeks ago was narrowed to just four points, so we can safely say Barca are back in the title race. Next weekend the Catalans will host Real Madrid in what should be a remarkable game at Camp Nou, but before they can start thinking about El Clasico, Pep Guardiola’s men have got to mastermind a victory over very good Levante side. That will be no easy task even if online bookmakers see Barcelona as hot favourites to win this clash. Los Granotas are a real force to be reckoned with at their Estadio Ciudad de Valencia and they have conceded just 16 goals in as many home games this season. All things considered, the visitors are likely to face a tough task in trying to break hard-working Levante.
Dani Alves will not be risked as he is carrying a thigh injury, whereas Gerard Pique could also miss out. Ibrahim Afellay has resumed full training and he is expected to be in contention for the Levante game.
Levante probably boast the most experienced team in the elite division and they look like they could give Barcelona a real run for their money. That may not prove to be enough for a positive result, but everything suggests the visitors will need a lot of time and effort to break the high-flying hosts.
Our prediction: Under 3.5 goals
Odds: 1.70 (7/10)