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This Tuesday at 10.00pm CEST, FC Barcelona travel to the Ciutat de Valencia with just three Liga games to go and absolutely everything still to play for following two fascinating fixtures at the weekend that both ended in draws.
Barça's 0-0 draw with Atlético Madrid at the Camp Nou means that matters are no longer directly in their hands. Even if the Catalans win their three remaining fixtures, it doesn’t guarantee them anything unless both Atlético and Real Madrid drop points in their own games.
Real Madrid were only in control of the situation for 24 hours. After they were held to a 2-2 draw by Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabéu, Atlético Madrid were put back in the driving seat. They're the only team now not relying on other games going their way.
Sevilla, who twice led in that match, could have got back into contention for the title themselves with a win, but are now all but mathematically out of the hunt.
This week’s games (all times CEST)
Tuesday 11 at 10.00pm: Levante v FC Barcelona
Wednesday 12 at 10.00pm: Atlético Madrid v Real Sociedad
Thursday 13 at 10.00pm: Granada v Real Madrid
It means we now have three absolutely huge midweek fixtures to look forward to. Anything but a win for Barça would leave their title hopes in very serious jeopardy. But three points would put them, at least temporarily, back on top the table and pile heaps of pressure on their two Madrid rivals.
This is proving to be a very intriguing battle indeed, and some nervy nights are in store for Culers all around the world!
After a fabulous mid-season run, including wins away to both the Madrid clubs and qualification for the semi-finals of the cup, things have all gone wrong at Levante in the last two months. They’ve lost three of their last four at home, and still aren’t totally sure that they won’t get relegated, although it is an extremely unlikely prospect.
This won’t be easy for Barça. They have lost on their last two visits to the Ciutat de Valencia (including last season's cup game) and it took a late goal from Leo Messi to split the sides when they met earlier this season at Camp Nou.
Ronald Koeman will again be without long-term absentees Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati, but otherwise he has a full squad to choose from, and with Matheus again left out the 23 is the same as the one he picked for the game with Atlético, including Sergio Busquets who was unable to complete the weekend fixture.
Did you know?
Barça’s overall league record away to Levante is 7 wins, 4 draws and 3 defeats. But they have NEVER failed to score at least once at the Ciutat de Valencia.
Jorge de Frutos has given eight assists this season, more than any Barça player apart from Leo Messi (9). He is also equal ninth in La Liga with Antoine Griezmann for goals scored. So he'll need watching very carefully!
Levante have only kept four clrean sheets this season. Only Real Valladolid (3) have fewer.
The two biggest Barça wins in this fixture both ended 5-0, in 2014/15 and in 2918/19 (see video below).
Leo Messi has ALWAYS featured in at least one goal in all ten games he has played against Levante. In total, he has an amazing 13 goals and ten assists.
Six Barça players (Messi, Piqué, De Jong, Jordi Alba, Griezmann and Mingueza) are one yellow card away from a suspension. But today's referee, José Luis Munuera Montero, is the least card-happy in the championship. He's given 48 yellow cards this season - no other ref has given less than 63 and the average is 76.
Levante are looking to become the first team to beat Barça, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid in the same league season Quique Setién led Real Betis to the feat in 2018/19.
“There were two very different halves against Atlético. We didn’t start well, we couldn’t create pressure, but in the second half we were better and it was a very tight battle. They had a much more experienced team. We had two 18-year-olds in midfield and a 20-year-old at the back. You have to look at everything and not just the result. It’s like if a team misses a penalty against us, then I’m the best coach in the world, and if they score one then I’m the worst!”
"Take a look at Araujo, Mingueza, Pedri, Ilaix... at the start of the season nobody imagined any of them would be getting so many games. They have taken their chances and they’re the future of this team. Barça now is a team for the future because we have so many young players, but that will mean we’re missing something now and again.”
"We’re going to fight for the league title until the very end. It’s out of our hands, but we can’t afford to make any mistakes.”
“It doesn’t matter that we have to play our game first. There have been times when we’ve played last and this time we’re first. The advantage depends on whether we win or lose.”
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