Levante vs. Barcelona: Preview and TV schedule

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

The battle for the league title moves forward for Barca with a trip to face Les Granotes.

Barcelona begins the second half the season with a trip to Valencia to face Levante, a team they defeated 7-0 in the season opener back in August. The chances of a similar scoreline on Sunday are extremely low as Levante has recovered well from that awful start to their campaign.

Gerardo Martino has decided to not risk Andrés Iniesta -- he has a minor knee bruise -- so he'll join Neymar on the sideline for this trip. Lionel Messi is back and once again at full match fitness for Barca, something that should scare any opponent. More frightening though is that the two month rest the star striker got while rehabbing a hamstring injury has rejuvenated Messi who appears to finally have his full speed and quickness back.

Levante will be hampered up top with strikers David Barral suspended and Papa Diawara struggling with injury. One suspects it will be tough for the Granotes to continue they recent solid form that's seen them win three of their last four matches in all competitions. They're only loss was a spirited 3-2 defeat against Atlético Madrid.


Levante injuries and suspensions

Out: Papa Diawara (abdominal strain), David Barral (suspended). In doubt: David Navarro (calf)

Barcelona injuries and suspensions

Out: Andrés Inieta (bruised knee), Neymar (ankle).

Iniesta's bruised knee, suffered in the draw against Atlético Madrid, is not quite healed so the midfielder will not be risked. Neymar suffered a rather ugly ankle injury in the midweek but will only miss around a month with tendon damage.

Projected lineups

Levante: Keylor Navas, Pedro López, Loukas Vyntra, Juanfran, Nikos Karabelas, Simão Mate, Sérgio Pinto, Jordi Xumetra, Rubén Garcia, Andreas Ivanschitz, Nabil El Zhar

Barcelona: Victor Valdés, Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Cesc Fàbregas, Alexis Sánchez, Pedro, Lionel Messi

Match Date/Time: 7 p.m. local, 1 p.m. ET

Venue: Estadi Ciutat de València, Valencia, Spain

TV: beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports en Español (U.S.), Sky Sports 2 (U.K.)

Online: beIN Sports Play (U.S.), beIN Sports Play (Canada)

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