BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Josep Guardiola of FC Barcelona claps his hands during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou on November 29, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won 4-0. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
FC Barcelona will be looking for an emphatic win over Levante ahead of El Clasico against Real Madrid.
Despite their mid-week 4-0 demolition of Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona continue to be a team that finds ways to look (and play) vulnerable. For the casual oberserver, it certainly doesn't appear the Blaugranes are living up to the high standards they have set for themselves over the past few seasons. Pep Guardiola's team has only lost once in La Liga this season, but four draws have allowed their bitter rivals Real Madrid to open up a three point advantage at the top of La Liga (Madrid has a game in hand so it might as well be six points).
With the season's first El Clasico looming, Barca will have to focus on fourth place Levante this weekend in a potentially tricky match at the Camp Nou. Pep's swiss army knife player Adriano will miss the match with a minor thigh injury and central defender Gerard Pique will be out serving a yellow card accumulation suspension as well. Javier Mascherano will likely fill in, though Carles Puyol could play unless Guardiola chooses to rest his defender to ensure he's ready for the Madrid match on December 10th. Barca should be boosted by the apparent return to form of Alexis Sanchez who scored twice against Rayo on Tuesday.
Despite sitting in fourth place in the league, Levante has hardly been on a great run of form having finally broke a three-match losing streak last weekend against Sporting Gijon. Levante manager Juan Ignacio Martinez will lean on Arouna Kone and Juanlu to try to challenge the patchwork Barcelona defense and steal a huge win for his club on the road.
Barcelona will need to avoid looking past Levante, something Guardiola will no doubt stress in training this week, and David Villa staying onside might help as well.
Barcelona Vs. Levante
Game Date/Time: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2:00 pm ET
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
TV: GolTV (USA and Canada), Sky Sports 4 (UK)
For more on this week's La Liga action, including live coverage, check out our La Liga Week 14 StoryStream. For more on the Blaugranas, check out FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. For more around the entire world of football, check out SB Nation Soccer.