Barcelona are in action against Levante in La Liga on Saturday night, kicking off at 8:45pm local time at the Nou Camp. Barcelona can wrap up the title with a victory, whilst Levante are involved in a tight relegation battle, and are in need of points to assure safety.
Home Team: Barcelona
Barcelona, who started without Lionel Messi, managed to get an important win at Deportivo Alaves on Tuesday, which has taken them within touching distance of retaining their title.
Goals from youngster Carles Alena and then a penalty converted by Luis Suarez was enough to secure a 2-0 victory. That win takes Barcelona’s point tally up to 80 points, meaning they are just requiring three points from their final four matches to secure the title.
Barcelona welcome Liverpool in the Champions League next Tuesday, so it may be expected that the main players will be rested once again, as they’ll hope that their fringe players, and younger squad members will have enough talent at their disposal to beat a weak Levante side.[geot exclude_country="US" ][/geot]
Away Team: Levante
Levante come into this match after their biggest result of the season, as they beat Real Betis in mid-week 4-0. They have showed a lot of fight in recent months, but despite drawing many games, they were unable to get three points for so long, in a run that stretched back to February.
However, they were able to get a critical result for them at a pivotal point of the season, as it took them to 37 points in 14th position, and are now 3 points ahead of the relegation places. It was a clinical performance from them, as they scored from every shot on target in the game, as they perfectly executed a counter-attacking strategy.
Two goals from Jose Campana, and a goal apiece from Jose Nogales and Coke saw them stride to victory as they put the destiny of their season in their own hands. Crucial games against Girona and Rayo Vallecano to come, but they’ll try their utmost best to get some bonus points against the champions-elect.
Head to Head
Barcelona generally are dominant against Levante, but they haven’t had it all their own way in recent seasons. Levante managed to prevent Barcelona from going unbeaten all season in La Liga, by beating them 5-4 in an exhilarating match at the end of last year’s campaign.
Levante also beat Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey clash this season 2-1, but went on to lose the 2nd leg 3-0 which eliminated them. Both of those defeats for Barcelona were away from home, but at the Nou Camp, they have beaten Levante 12 consecutive times at home dating back to 2004, with score lines such as 7-0, 5-0, and 4-1 too.
Predictions and Tips
The hosts will likely rest many players for this match, but I’d expect them to still field a team capable of winning at home and securing the title. They’ll want to make sure the title is won as soon as possible so they can focus on their other competitions, so I’d back a home 2-0 victory at 7/1.
Lionel Messi is at 4/11 to score at any time, which may be a risk considering he probably won’t start the game. Instead, I’d back either Kevin-Prince Boateng (19/20), or Carles Alena (14/5) to score at any time instead.
Levante will be fighting for their lives, and I do fancy them to keep the result respectable, so my last tip would be to back the hosts to win by only a 1-goal margin at 10/3.
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