Barça go into today’s game with Levante as league leaders with three wins out of three, having also just won their opening Champions League fixture against APOEL. And they have ended all four of those games with clean sheets. After beating Elche (3-0), Villarreal (1-0), Athletic Bilbao (2-0) and APOEL (1-0), the mood among the squad could not be better as they travel to the Ciudad de Valencia.
In contrast, the campaign has got off to a torrid start for Levante, who are currently bottom of the table without a single goal to their name.
After wearing the traditional red and blue kit in each game, apart from the yellow and red of the Catalan flag against Bilbao, this will be the first time this season that Barça have worn their new crimson away strip, although they did wear it in two preseason friendlies against Recreativo Huelva and OGC Niza.
Manager Luis Enrique named a squad of 19 for today’s trip south, with Rafinha left out as a precautionary measure and Adriano and Marc Bartra dropped. All of Mascherano, Pedro, Montoya and Busquets are back in the side.
It’s never easy to go to the Ciudad de Valencia. Following a quiet summer on the transfer market, Levante are much the same side that held Barça to a 1-1 draw last season. But Mendilibar is missing seven regulars this evening, including such key players as David Navarro, Juanfran and Rafael Martíns. Not that that is likely to change the way they play, which typically consists of tight defending and plenty of danger from set pieces.