FC Barcelona (8th, 9pts) vs Levante UD (16th, 4pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Saturday
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 7
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Frenkie De Jong, Pedri, Jordi Alba, Sergio Agüero, Martin Braithwaite, Alejandro Balde, Ousmane Dembélé (out)
Levante Outs & Doubts: Roberto Soldado, Enis Bardhi, José Campaña, Mickaël Malsa (out)
Date/Time: Sunday, September 26, 2021, 4.15pm CET (Barcelona), 3.15pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 10.15am ET, 7.15am PT (USA), 7.45pm IST (India)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Isidro Díaz de Mera Escuderos
VAR: Guillermo Cuadra Fernández
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA), TSN 3 (Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others
Following a depressing goalless draw away to Cádiz on Thursday, Barcelona are right back in action in La Liga as they welcome struggling Levante to the Greatest Stadium on Earth.
It’s been three weeks since Barça last won a game, but somehow it feels like a lot longer than that. The performances and the results have been awful, and Ronald Koeman is still in charge even though the entire world knows he’s about to be sacked at any time.
Koeman won’t be on the sidelines for the next two La Liga matches including Sunday’s, which will be some practice for when he’s gone for good. Koeman is not entirely at fault for Barça’s problems but he’s far from the solution, and his inevitable departure seems like a necessary step in the right direction.
He’s not quite gone yet, though, and as a professional you’d expect Koeman to prepare his team as well as possible, even on short rest, to get back to winning ways on Sunday. Levante provide a great opponent for that as the Granoles are yet to win in the season and come into this one with their best players injured, so their firepower will be severely limited.
Barça desperately need good news and with Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid both dropping points on Saturday, the Blaugrana have a chance to close the gap and keep dreaming of being part of the title race if the new manager can get them on the right path.
But talking of titles is crazy. Let’s win a game first, and hopefully play well too to finish the weekend on a high. And maybe, just maybe, Ansu Fati gets a few minutes and scores on his return in front of the Camp Nou crowd. One can dream. Welcome back, Prince.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Piqué, Araujo, Dest; Roberto, Busquets, Gavi; Demir, Memphis, Coutinho
Levante (4-4-2): Aitor; Miramón, Duarte, Postigo, Clerc; De Frutos, Radoja, Martínez, Melero; Gómez, Roger
I don’t know why I’m so confident. Maybe it’s Ansu being back that just brings such a smile on my face that it blinds me to reality: 3-0 Barça, and an Ansu goal. Screw it.