Fresh off the back of their resounding 7-0 win over Valencia in the Copa del Rey, FC Barcelona will be looking to continue in their rich vein of form when they take on La Liga strugglers Levante on Sunday (12.00pm CET).
Luis Enrique has no particular injury concerns ahead of the top versus bottom clash other than long-term absentee Rafinha. Levante boss Rubí will be unable to call upon Casadesús, José Mari, Pedro López, Juanfran and Rubén due to injury, but welcomes back Deyverson who missed the league defeat to Sevilla due to suspension, as well as Orban.
The hosts also include their three January signings in the squad: Algerian international Carl Medjani, former Barça youth player Joan Verdú and ex-Villarreal forward Giuseppe Rossi.
Luis Enrique alluded to the upcoming opponents’ impressive moves in the recent transfer window in his pre-match press conference: “Levante have signed well and it will be a challenge for us to win and stay leaders.” The Barça boss, who will reach a century of matches as manager of the Catalans, also heaped praise on his team: “In these 100 games as coach we have won so much because we have the best players in the world.”
Rubí, who was part of the Barça coaching team in the 2013/14 season, says that “Sunday will be a very special day” for himself and his players. “Barcelona are on great form but we are fully focused on achieving the maximum,” warned the 46-year-old.
Barça have the chance to equal the club’s record unbeaten streak of 28 matches on Sunday. The Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg rout over Valencia saw Luis Enrique’s men surpass the streak set by Michels’ team in the 1973/74 season and avoiding defeat against Levante would match that of Pep Guardiola’s sensational 2010-11 side.
Rubi’s side have lost seven of their last ten league matches but have shown recent signs of improvement, with maximum points from their two latest home games.
Barça have a great record at Levante, having lost just once in the fixture’s history with an unbeaten run of over 50 years. You have to go back to the 1964/65 season for Levante’s last and only ever home win over the Catalans. The Valencians’ ground is a particularly special place for Barça as they have sealed the league title on two occasions there this century, in 2004/05 and 2010/11.