Barcelona host Levante at Camp Nou on Saturday in the midst of heightening expectation for the first leg of their Champions League semifinal with Bayern Munich next week.
With a 13 point lead over second-placed Real Madrid with seven matches remaining, the league title looks all-but secure, but assistant coach Jordi Roura insists that the club’s focus is on sealing the championship as quickly as possible.
“They were already saying we’d won the league two or three months ago,” he said, according to Barcelona’s official website. “But the team has maintained the same intensity and concentration required to win. We still need nine points before we can say we are champions and we all know that this is the most important tournament.”
Barcelona will be heavy favorites to get the victory against a Levante side that has seen their chances of European qualification fade away after a run of just one win in their last 10 La Liga matches.
Roura, though, is wary of Levante’s current predicament.
“Levante are on a bad run, but that sometimes works against you because they have nothing to lose and that makes things especially difficult,” he explained.
Lionel Messi returned to training on Thursday but, while Roura would not rule him out, it seems highly unlikely that the Argentinian forward’s hamstring injury will be risked on Saturday just three days before the match in Munich.
Sergio Busquets is also likely to be given further recovery time, while defenders Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano remain injured and are facing a race against time just to be fit for the return leg with Bayern.
Levante have lost their last two matches by four-goal margins; 5-1 to Real Madrid and a humiliating 4-0 home reverse to relegation-threatened Deportivo La Coruna last week.
Juan Ignacio Martinez’s side will be missing midfielder Vicente Iborra through suspension.
D: Montoya, Bartra, Adriano, Alba
M: Thiago, Song, Iniesta
Sanchez, Fabregas, Tello
D: Lell, Ballesteros, Navarro, Juanfran
M: Barkero, Diop
Rios, Michel, El Zhar
Prediction: Barcelona will likely field a much-changed side, but that has not prevented them from winning 3-0 and 5-0 in their past two league matches. With Levante on an awful run of form and leaking goals aplenty, Barcelona should make it a third-straight resounding league win.
Barcelona 4-1 Levante
Where to watch: The Liga contest will kick-off from Camp Nou at 2 p.m. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.