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Following draws at home to Granada and away to Cádiz, something of a gap has opened up between FC Barcelona and the frontrunners in La Liga 2021/22. Sunday afternoon (local time 4.15pm CEST) brings an ideal chance to add three much-needed points to the collection against a Levante side that is winless after their first six games, with Saturday's results also having worked generally in Barça's interests.
History is also on Barça’s side. There may have been some slips when facing Levante in Valencia, but whenever these two teams have met at Camp Nou, the Catalans have always been victorious.
But despite their lowly position in the table, Levante are also the only team to have taken points off Real Madrid so far this season, and with Barça’s own form faltering, they might fancy their chances of causing another upset on Sunday.
The great news from the Barça camp, however, is that Ansu Fati is back in the squad for the first time since picking up an injury in December of last year.
Did you know?
Levante’s biggest ever defeat in La Liga was a 7-0 loss to Barça at Camp Nou in 2013.
Levante have not won any of their last 14 league games, and one more failure will equal their poorest run of all time in the first division.
Ansu Fati scored two goals against Levante in February 2020.
Barça have met Levante 30 times in La Liga and have never failed to score at least once.
There is just one change from the Barça squad that faced Cádiz midweek, with the suspended Frenkie de Jong (red carded in that match, of course) replaced by the returning Ansu Fati, back from injury and donning his brand new number 10 shirt.
Sunday’s game presents Barça with a wonderful opportunity to get back in the mix at the top of the table. On Saturday, leaders Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Villarreal, while champions Atlético Madrid were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at Alavés, a team that had lost all six of their games before that.
That’s allowed Sevilla to move into second place after beating Espanyol 2-0, although Real Sociedad would jump ahead of them if they beat Elche later on today.
Barça start the game in eighth place, and eight points adrift of the top of the table. But they’ve also played two fewer games.
Ronald Koeman says
“Getting Ansu Fati back is very important. We have a plan in place for his gradual reintroduction. He’s in the squad and will play for a maximum of 15 minutes. It is very important not to over-rush things … He won’t be back to his best in just two games or two weeks.”
“The injured players are ones who can play on the wings, take players on and who are quick. It’s making it much harder for us in defence. We’re getting hurt down the wings and using full backs as cover is not the best solution.”
“Memphis feels guilty for not scoring in the last game, but he mustn’t get obsessed with these things and needs to keep playing the way he does. We had four or five very clear chances against Cádiz and we really should be taking them. But we mustn’t forget that we have lost players who are natural goalscorers.”
“Gavi may well play tomorrow. We only have 17 outfield players to choose from, and we have lots of centre backs and hardly any cover elsewhere, especially up front, where we’re very limited.”
“I agree with Piqué about the fixture list and I think it’s right that he complained. It’s great that he and Sergi Roberto are willing to speak out about these matters.”
“I have to learn from the sending off. I need to calm down. But I am only human and there are times during games when it’s hard to accept decisions.”
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