Monday, November 18, 2019

Prediction: Levante vs FC Barcelona

Juan Pablo Aravena in Free Soccer Predictions 9 Jan 2019

1,362 Views

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 4/9

Bookmaker: 888sport

The 2018-19 Copa del Rey Round of 16 will begin this week and the reigning champions, FC Barcelona, will aim to defend their title once again. Their Round of 16 opponent is another LaLiga side, as they will battle it out against Levante. The first leg of this tie will be played at Levante’s home, and kick-off has been scheduled for Thursday at 20:30 BST.

Levante

Levante’s season in the 2018-19 Copa del Rey began at the same stage as Barcelona in the Round of 32, but they looked far from dominant on their tie against second-tier Club Deportivo Lugo. Following a 1-1 draw in the first leg where Levante had several problems, they were forced to turn things around in the second half and secured a tougher-than-expected 2-0 win at home. So there’s no question that playing Barcelona is not going to be easy, especially considering they could have received an easier opponent. If we count the Liga results in order to establish a reference of how their season has gone thus far, we can see Levante sit in 10th place of the standings with 23 points (W6, D5, L7). However, they are currently riding a four-game winless run (D2, L2). Needless to say, this isn’t their ideal time to face a team such as Barcelona.

Team News

Levante will have several absentees ahead of this game. The list of injured players includes Pedro Lopez, Antonio Luna, Cheick Doukoure, Armando Sadiku, and Samuel.

We shouldn’t rule out the possibility of some rotation as well, especially considering they will play in LaLiga against Atletico Madrid in the early Sunday tilt (11:00 hrs BST).

FC Barcelona

Barcelona’s Copa del Rey campaign has gone exactly as it has gone in each of the past four seasons: smooth. Los Blaugranas didn’t have problems in their opening tie against third-tier Cultura Leonesa, winning by a comfortable 5-1 aggregate score while rotating the squad heavily. Things will get a bit more complicated here since Levante are a well-established Liga side, but there’s no question Ernesto Valverde’s men should be heavy favourites entering this tie. For what is worth, the Camp Nou outfit currently sit at the top of the Liga standings with 40 points (W12, D4, L2) and they have also won each of their last five league outings. Even if Los Blaugranas do not play with their Best XI in this match – something that could easily happen given the crowded period on their upcoming schedule – they own enough quality to breeze through this tie easily. And they need to show it in the first leg playing away from home.

Team News

Los Blaugranas do not have many injury concerns entering this game. However, three players have been ruled out: Sergi Samper, Rafinha and Samuel Umtiti.

Plus, there could be some rotation moves. One of them will be the presence of Jasper Cillessen between the posts. This will give Marc-Ander ter Stegen some much-needed rest.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Levante have not won in their last four Liga matches (D2, L2). They have also won just two of their past 10 matches in all competitions (W2, D5, L3).
  • Meanwhile, FC Barcelona are currently riding a nine-game undefeated run across all competitions (W7, D2).
  • Los Blaugranas also own a clear edge when it comes to the H2H record. They have won four of their last five meetings against Levante (W4, L1), scoring at least three goals in four of those five matches.
  • In fact, Barcelona won 5-0 when these two sides met here at Estadi Ciutat de València earlier this season.
  • Four of the last five H2H matches have featured over 2.5 goals scored. Two of them have seen both sides scoring.

Conclusion

There’s no question Barcelona enter this game as heavy favourites. However, they are likely to rotate the side, and their defence hasn’t been very good in the first place. I still expect Los Blaugranas to win, but we could see both teams scoring in this one.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 4/9

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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