Barcelona have not only maintained their supremacy in the La Liga at home this season but also in Europe where they are set to host Liverpool on Wednesday night in the first leg tie of the prestigious UEFA Champions League competition. The Catalans, meanwhile, have a contest this weekend against struggling Levante and this Camp Nou fixture is nothing but a mere formality considering Barca’s sheer dominance in the La Liga title race.
While the fans must be demanding an extensive alteration in the starting XI, Ernesto Valverde would prefer to seal the title on Saturday night as well as rest his key individuals to keep them fit, fresh and fine for the Liverpool game scheduled a few days later. The club have strengthened themselves significantly over the past few windows and hold enough options in their ranks to beat past the Granotas despite their latest 4-0 win against Real Betis.
Barcelona Team News vs Levante:
Barcelona do not have any significant injury absentees except Rafinha who is ruled out for the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament. Thomas Vermaelen returned from his recent setback and was included in the matchday squad against Alaves.
The gaffer has not experimented much with his team’s set-up and should field his players in a usual 4-3-3 pattern irrespective of the potential changes he might make in the starting lineup.
Although Jasper Cillessen is a quality alternative, Valverde has banked on Marc-André ter Stegen between the sticks and is expected to rely on the Germany international once again.
Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet are tipped to be the likely central defensive pairing for their European contest. The gaffer, therefore, must rest the duo and field Thomas Vermaelen and Samuel Umtiti instead. Nelson Semedo should be deployed in his usual right-back role while Jordi Alba might start the game after being used as a late substitute versus Alaves.
Arthur Melo should return to the starting eleven alongside Ivan Rakitic who was rested for their Basque trip keeping the Liverpool game in mind. Both Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets need a few days off to get ready for their Champions League encounter. However, the youngster Carles Alena should retain his place after scoring spectacularly at Mendizorroza.
Kevin-Prince Boateng has rarely been used following his surprise winter move from Sassuolo. He should be handed a start in place of Luis Suarez as the Uruguayan must be gearing up to face his former employers.
Ex Reds man Philippe Coutinho needs to be rested too which should see Ousmane Dembele operating from the left-hand flank. Lionel Messi is the nucleus of this Barca side and must remain fully fit for the midweek tie. Malcom should be preferred in his place for the weekend fixture.
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