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Preview: Barcelona vs. Levante - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Barcelona vs. Levante - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Levante, including team news and predicted lineups.

Barcelona will be looking to return to winning ways in La Liga when they host Levante on Sunday night.

The Spanish champions relinquished first spot to Real Madrid last weekend, and Quique Setien's side will be determined to secure all three points against a Levante side that currently occupy 13th in the table.

Match preview

Setien picked up wins in his first two matches as Barca boss, with the Catalan giants beating Granada and Ibiza in the league and Copa del Rey respectively to make it a positive start for Ernesto Valverde's replacement.

The Spanish champions suffered a 2-0 loss at Valencia last weekend, though, and ultimately dropped to second spot in the table when Real Madrid beat Real Valladolid.

As it stands, Barca are three points off Zinedine Zidane's side having dropped points in eight of their 21 league matches this season. There is no question that there have been problems at Camp Nou this term, although they are still in a strong position when it comes to a title challenge.

The home side will also enter the match off the back of an impressive 5-0 win over Leganes in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night. Setien ditched his back three in favour of a 4-3-3 for that match, and there is every chance the team could stick in that formation for this weekend's contest.

Barca recorded a 1-0 victory over Levante in the corresponding match last term, but the Valencia-based side ran out 3-1 winners when the two teams locked horns earlier this season.

Since returning to the top flight at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, Levante have posted back-to-back 15th-place finishes. They have not actually ended a La Liga season in a spot higher than 14th since 2013-14, although they famously finished sixth in 2011-12.

A record of eight wins, two draws and 11 defeats has left them in 13th spot in the table, some nine points clear of the relegation zone. It is difficult to imagine them being pulled into danger, although only three La Liga teams have lost more matches than Paco Lopez's side this season.

As mentioned, Levante ran out 3-1 winners when the pair met in Valencia earlier this season, while they only suffered a 1-0 defeat at Camp Nou last term courtesy of a second-half Lionel Messi goal.

In Roger Marti and Borja Mayoral, the Frogs have two strikers with 13 league goals between them during the 2019-20 campaign, and there is no question that the visitors are capable of harming the champions.

Levante have lost each of their last three matches in all competitions, though, including a 2-0 defeat in their last league game away at Osasuna on January 24.

Barcelona La Liga form: DDWDWL
Barcelona form (all competitions): DLWWLW

Levante La Liga form: LWWLLL
Levante form (all competitions): WLWLLL

Team News

Barca will again be without the services of Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez through injury, while number two goalkeeper Neto is again a doubt due to a hamstring problem.

Setien otherwise has a fully-fit squad, though, and the likes of Arthur, Samuel Umtiti and Sergi Roberto are likely to earn recalls having been named on the bench against Leganes in the Copa del Rey.

As mentioned, the new Barca boss could switch from a back three to a 4-3-3, with Ansu Fati potentially joining Antoine Griezmann and Messi in the final third of the field.

As for Levante, Rober Pier, Oier Olazabal, Cheick Doukoure and Ivan Lopez remain unavailable for selection, but Nemanja Radoja and Enis Bardhi could both pass late fitness tests to feature for the visitors this weekend.

Ruben Vezo is likely to feature as part of a front three, while Mayoral might have to accept a spot on the bench with Jose Luis Morales pushing to partner Marti in the final third of the field.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Arthur; Griezmann, Messi, Fati

Levante possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Cabaco, Postigo, Vezo; Miramon, Radoja, Campana, Tono; Rochina; Marti, Morales

We say: Barcelona 2-0 Levante

It would be fair to say that Barca are still finding their feet under Setien, but with Real Madrid facing Atletico Madrid on Saturday afternoon, the Spanish champions will be desperate to claw some points back. Levante are capable of making things difficult for the hosts, but we fancy the Catalan giants to emerge victorious.

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