Levante host Barcelona in a much-anticipated league fixture on Sunday. It rained goals the last time the two sides met as Levante, against all odds, ended the Blaugranes’ unbeaten run. Both teams are defensively susceptible but Barcelona come with more vigour to win as they have managed to keep clean sheets in two successive league games. A win against Levante will consolidate their position as table toppers, as Atletico moved level on points on Saturday with victory over Real Valladolid. Here are three things Barcelona should do to win against Levante:
Take advantage of Levante’s rampant fouling
Levante are prone to conceding fouls in dangerous areas and Barcelona have been superb in converting set-pieces. Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi’s pace and trickery will prove a headache for the Levante defence. Levante have found it difficult to defend set-pieces, they have conceded five of their 25 goals this way. Meanwhile, Barceona have scored 11 goals from set-pieces this season, more than any team in the league. If Levante fall prey to their own mistakes and Messi gets his chance to shine, there’s no one who can save the ball heading inside the goal.
Tighten up the defence for another clean sheet
The Granotas have been a free-scoring team and have successfully converted many scoring chances. Their stat of 27 goals scored so far has broken their highest ever goal tally in the league (25, 1963-64). They thrashed strugglers Athletic Bilbao 3-0 and come from an exhilarating match against Eibar, a nailbiting 4-4 draw. Their impressive performances have made them grab sixth spot in the league and they would do anything for a European spot. The last time the two sides met, Barcelona conceded five goals and just couldn’t stop their speedy attackers. Fast forward to now, Emmanuel Boateng hasn’t been in blistering form ever since and is expected to be on the bench. Roger Marti and Morales constitute the forward battalion and the partnership has paid dividends. The Blaugrana defence has performed considerably well recently but is still prone to giving away chances. Barcelona have maintained clean sheets in two successive league games and must aim for a third. If they do so, bagging three points would become much easier.
Penetrate Levante’s leaky defence
Barcelona have scored in each of their last 29 league away games, only three less than their own stat of 32 recorded between February 2012 and September 2013. Penetrating the defence won’t be a big task as Levante do fall prey to passing errors (a below average passing accuracy of around 75%) and enjoy a smaller share of possession (around 45%). Barcelona must make the most out of Levante’s faulty touches and stray passes. The fixture gives an opportunity for the Blaugranes to set the record straight with a comprehensive win. If Barcelona infiltrate Levante’s defence and make the most out of their mistakes, nothing can stop them from gaining three points.