MX23RW : Saturday, January 19 18:34:29
Jan 17, 2019 at 8.30pm UK at ​Camp Nou (Barcelona)
Attendance: 42,838
Dembele (30', 31'), Messi (54')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Preview: Barcelona vs. Levante - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Barcelona's Copa del Rey last-16 second leg with Levante.

Barcelona have work to do if they are to advance to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, having suffered a 2-1 defeat to Levante in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

A late Philippe Coutinho penalty saw Barcelona register in the first leg last week, but Levante will take an advantage into the second leg at Camp Nou on Thursday courtesy of an impressive win.


Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde pictured on November 24, 2018© Reuters

Barcelona made it six straight La Liga wins on Sunday night with a 3-0 home success over Eibar. The Catalan giants once again have a five-point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid at the summit and will now switch their attention back to the Copa del Rey as they bid to make the quarter-finals once again.

There is no question that the Catalan giants have work to do following their 2-1 defeat to Levante in the first leg. That said, Coutinho's spot kick five minutes from time has made it more of an open contest, and Ernesto Valverde's side will fancy their chances of turning the tie around in front of their own supporters.

Barcelona landed their 30th Copa del Rey crown last season and have been utterly dominant in this competition in recent years. Indeed, they have lifted the trophy in each of the last four campaigns and have been present in all but one of the last eight finals, which is some record.

Valverde's side had no problems overcoming Cultural Leonesa in the last round, ultimately running out 5-1 aggregate winners to advance to the last-16 stage of the competition once again. Levante have provided some competition in this round, but Barca are still seen as the favourites to progress.

Barcelona are going to take some stopping in La Liga this season, but there is no question that the Catalan giants would trade another Copa del Rey title in for the Champions League. The Spaniards will face Lyon over two legs in the round of 16 next month and will be desperate to land their first European title since 2015.

Ideally, Valverde would have liked to have rested players on Thursday night ahead of their La Liga clash with Leganes this weekend. There will certainly be alterations for the second leg, but Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are both expected to be in the starting XI once again.

Messi made it 400 La Liga goals with a strike against Eibar at the weekend, while Luis Suarez struck twice to take his tally to 14 for the season.

Recent form: WWWWWL
Recent form (all competitions): DWWWLW


Levante's Ruben Rochina tangles with Barcelona's Juan Miranda during their Copa del Rey clash on January 10, 2019.© Reuters

It is advantage Levante in this last-16 tie, with the Valencia-based outfit putting in a fine performance on home soil last week. At 2-0, Levante would have really fancied their chances, but Coutinho's late penalty was a real hammer blow.

Levante will also enter Thursday's match off the back of a tough fixture away at Atletico Madrid on Sunday, meanwhile. Paco Lopez's side gave a good account of themselves, but ultimately suffered a 1-0 defeat to La Liga's second-placed team.

The result left Levante in 12th position in La Liga, but they are only three points off the top seven and showed their credentials against Barcelona last week.

Promoted from the Segunda Division as winners in 2017, Levante earned another season of La Liga football by finishing 15th in the top flight last term. The Frogs have now been present in eight of the last nine La Liga campaigns and will be looking to secure another season of top-flight action.

It will not come as a surprise to learn that Levante have never won the Copa del Rey, while they have not been past the quarter-finals since 1935. Lopez's team beat Lugo in the round of 32 to progress to this stage and would have wanted to have avoided the holders at this relatively early point.

It is a huge ask to expect Levante to win at Camp Nou on Thursday, but their positive result in the first leg has given the team something to protect. The first goal will be key in this match and Barcelona have certainly given teams chances this season, with Real Betis, Athletic Bilbao and Girona all picking up positive results at Camp Nou during the 2018-19 campaign.

Recent form: DWLDWW
Recent form (all competitions): DLLDWL

Team News

Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona on December 11, 2018© Reuters

Barcelona will once again be without the services of Rafinha and Samuel Umtiti, while Sergi Samper and Thomas Vermaelen are also expected to miss out.

Jasper Cillessen, Carles Alena, Arturo Vidal and Ousmane Dembele should return, but Valverde might opt for more experience at the back.

Jeison Murillo was arguably Barcelona's best defender on his debut in the first leg, though, and the recent arrival from Valencia should make the XI again.

As mentioned, Messi and Luis Suarez are both expected to be selected, with Coutinho providing the attacking option from the bench.

As for Levante, on-loan Real Madrid forward Borja Mayoral was excellent in the first leg last week and the Spaniard should continue in attack.

Emmanuel Boateng also impressed in the first leg and should start, with Moses Simon and Aitor Fernandez also earning spots in the XI.

Coke and Ruben Rochina both came off the bench against Atletico at the weekend, but the pair should return for this match.

Head coach Lopez also has a decision to make over the involvement of star player Jose Luis Morales, who started on the bench in the first leg.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Cillessen; Semedo, Murillo, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Alena; Dembele, L Suarez, Messi

Levante possible starting lineup:
Aitor; Postigo, Chema, Cabaco; Coke, Prcic, Campana, Simon; Rochina; Mayoral, Boateng

Head To Head

These two teams will be locking horns in the Copa del Rey for the first time in four years, but the last time did not end well for Levante, who were thumped 9-2 on aggregate by Barcelona.

Barca ran out 5-0 winners when they travelled to Levante in the league on December 16, meanwhile, but the Frogs did record a 5-4 victory when the pair met in Valencia last season.

Levante's last trip to Barcelona came in January 2018, with the home side running out 3-0 winners in the La Liga affair.

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We say: Barcelona 3-1 Levante

We fancy Levante to register a goal at Camp Nou, but Barcelona will have too much down the other end. The holders to progress to the quarter-finals.

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Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring against Real Madrid in El Clasico on October 28, 2018
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