Levante coach Lucas Alcaraz knows there will be little margin for error when his side travel to the Camp Nou to take on Barcelona on Sunday.
Luis Enrique’s men will aim to maintain the perfect start to their La Liga title defence after being held to a 1-1 Champions League draw by Roma in midweek.
Each of Barcelona’s domestic wins this term has been by a solitary goal, although Alcaraz does not need to cast his mind back too far to recall the champions at their destructive best.
The Catalans’ famous front three were all on target in a 5-0 win over Levante in February, with Neymar and Luis Suarez netting either side of a Lionel Messi hat-trick.
“We’ll need to be at our best in every sense; we need to be tight in defence and when we have the ball use it well,” he told a pre-match news conference, as quoted by AS. “There are a lot of things that the team have to do very well.”
“They have very good players and we’re not telling anybody anything they don’t know by saying that Messi is the most decisive. But I coach our players and I will concentrate on them. Our most decisive player needs to be the whole team.”
On last season’s Camp Nou rout, Alcaraz felt his men were holding their own until conceding three times in the final half-hour.
“From that match, if we analyse the first 60 minutes, the team did very well but then Barcelona stepped up a gear and we couldn’t handle it,” he said.
“The challenge is to be able to handle that rhythm, that due to their quality they are able to impose.
“It’s a very difficult game, that is obvious. But it’s the game that we have and we have the desire to do what we do well – playing to our strengths and being competitive.”
The season’s first round of midweek La Liga matches follow the encounter, with Alcaraz suggesting that he would be prepared to rotate his line-up on Sunday.
For Barca, midfielder Rafinha begins a lengthy rehabilitation after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Roma, while goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen will continue as Claudio Bravo remains sidelined with a calf problem.
Bravo defended his colleague, who was beaten by an audacious long-range effort from Alessandro Florenzi in the Italian capital, stating that the requirement for Barcelona goalkeepers to be readily available to take passes from their defence left them vulnerable to such unlikely goals.
Speaking at an Adidas promotional event, Bravo said: “It was a great goal. Barca goalkeepers play a different way to other keepers. We come further off our line, but that does mean there’s a greater risk. Malaga very nearly scored a very similar kind of goal against me.
“We goalies know that we’re always going to have to deal with criticism. It is something we have been used to since we were kids. We’re pretty tough-skinned in that respect – especially at a club like this. These things happen and we just have to get used to them.”
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