Friday, April 26, 2019

Prediction: Barcelona vs Levante

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions 17 Jan 2019

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Verdict: Lionel Messi to score 2+ goals

Best Odds: 20/21

Bookmaker: Bet365

Barcelona must overcome a surprise first-leg defeat against Levante if they are going to carry on their Copa del Rey defence.

Barcelona

Starting with the hosts, after demanding a response following their shock defeat at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia seven days ago, Ernesto Valverde certainly got what he wanted last Sunday. With the defending Copa del Rey champions picking up a definitive 3-0 win over Eibar at the Nou Camp, Barcelona have re-established a five-point buffer at the top of the La Liga table. With many putting their 2-1 loss away to Levante down to a number of their biggest stars settling for a place on the bench, there is no doubt that Valverde will be recalling leading goalscorer and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. Once again finding the net last weekend, the Argentina star became the first player to score 400 goals in La Liga and has already bagged 17 goals this season. Despite entering Thursday’s match with a surprising deficit, the 30-time Copa del Rey winners hold a stellar record at the Nou Camp and will be feeling confident. Barca have lost just one home match since November 2017.

Team News

Messi and Suarez were rested for the first leg, while Philippe Coutinho failed to shine despite scoring a late penalty. Valverde may be tempted to name close to a full-strength XI to ensure Barca don’t slip out of the competition and lose momentum.

Levante

As for the visitors, while Levante might sit down in 12th position and coming off the back of a 1-0 loss away at Atletico Madrid last weekend, the mood in Paco Lopez’s camp should be on a high. Just three points adrift of jumping up to seventh in the La Liga table, the 2017 Segunda champions do have a reputation as a tough team to break down. Although the Frogs have performed admirably over the past month, there has been some concerns over their ability to see off a game. Shipping five against Barcelona in their La Liga meeting back in December, Levante have recorded just one win in their last five matches across all competitions. If Lopez’s side are to pull off a shocking upset and book their spot in the quarterfinals stage of this year’s Copa del Rey, Levante will also need to improve on their recent record away from the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia. The Frogs have failed to win any of their last five matches on the road.

Team News

The visitors will be without striker Armando Sadiku who remains sidelined, having not played a minute of first team football this term.

Levante will also be unable to call upon defender Chema, who has been ruled out for four weeks.

Key Factors to Consider

  • The last four matches in a row, that involved both these teams, saw over 2.5 match goals.
  • Blaugrana has a 100% winning record against this opponent at the Camp Nou.
  • Lionel Messi has scored 13 goal in his 13 La Liga appearances this season.
  • The hosts have also lost just one home match since November 2017.
  • The total of 12 head-to-head games at the Camp Nou have a combined scoreline of 43-6, in favor of the hosts.

Conclusion

Although Levante did put up an impressive showing in their victory over the defending champions last week, it is hard to see them overcoming a Barcelona side strengthened by the return of Lionel Messi. Bagging a hat-trick against Levante in their La Liga clash in December, we’re backing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to enjoy a successful evening in front of goal.

Verdict: Lionel Messi to score 2+ goals

Best Odds: 20/21

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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