Barcelona vs Levante is quite clearly not a fixture that gets us on the edge of our seats. No matter how much of a formality a win may feel like in these games, they still have to be played and won out on the pitch. A major plus about today's game is the opportunity for Luis Enrique to rest some key players, particularly the likes of Andrés Iniesta and Jordi Alba.
MSN vs Deep-lying Levante defensive block
We have become accustomed to watching teams defend deep when playing against Barça. Today will be no different as Lucas Alcaraz's men will look to form a compact defensive block in and around their box. Lucho has succinctly described Levante - "They will be ready to make life difficult for us, getting players behind the ball" - in his pre-match press conference. Coming off the tough midweek Champions League game against Roma, Messi, Suárez and Neymar will be looking to assert their (excluding Messi, he is out of this world after all) undoubted world class quality against the Valencian underdogs. Led by their captain Juanfran, Levante will look to use every trick in the book to take anything out of this game.
With the rotation policy employed by Luis Enrique, the "S" in MSN could stand for Sandro Ramírez. If given the chance, Sandro would be chomping at the bit to get on the scoresheet at Camp Nou. Levante are the type of opposition to blood youngsters like Sandro.
Levante - Counter-attack & Set pieces
Nabil Ghilas will be Levante's primary threat on the counter, as they look to make the most of the Algerian's strength and movement up front. If he features, Rubén García is one to watch. The young Spaniard has a good turn of pace, creativity and works extremely hard.
As is the case in most matches, with the height advantage favouring the opposition, set pieces will again be one of the offensive threats for Levante.
This is not a "key battle" per se. Rather, I thought I'd mention Sergi Roberto being given a chance in midfield after his string of impressive performances at right back. That would be, of course, with the assumption that Dani Alves returns at right back. The Masia product possesses the quality to stamp his authority against inferior opposition in Levante. Roberto's role would be to cover the attacking fullbacks, but he should have the chances to get forward and perhaps even get his name on the scoresheet, like a certain Ivan Rakitić.
After the recent serious injury suffered by Rafinha Alcântara, hopefully the team will be dedicating a victory to the young Brazilian after the final whistle at Camp Nou.