Barcelona make the 350km trip down Spain’s east coast to Valencia on Sunday with the hope of maintaining their unbeaten La Liga record when they face an in-form Levante.
Ernesto Valverde’s men are closing in on becoming the first ever side to complete a 38-game Spanish top-flight campaign without tasting defeat; with the last outfit to do so being Real Madrid in an 18-game term in 1932.
However, despite dispatching Villarreal 5-1 just three days after managing to see out a 2-2 draw with 10 men for the most part against Real Madrid in last weekend’s El Clasico, Paco Jemez’s Levante – who have recorded four consecutive victories and lost just once in their previous 10 – will pose a tough test for Blaugrana.
So, ahead of the contest, let’s take a look at all you need to know.
Barcelona 7-0 Levante (August 2013)
Although Barcelona have never tasted defeat against this weekend’s opponents, one particular victory stands out; their 7-0 annihilation of Granotas in 2013.
Five different scorers – Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi, Dani Alves, Pedro and Xavi, with the Argentine wizard grabbing his second from the penalty spot shortly before half-time – put Barca into a six-goal lead at the break, before Pedro added his second of the afternoon 17 minutes from time.
After the early-season win, expectations tipping Gerardo Martino to emulate the late Tito Vilanova’s success from the previous year soared, although Atletico Madrid would eventually go on and pip them to the silverware.
José Luis Morales vs Nelson Semedo
Although Barcelona are expected to be on the front foot throughout, Levante’s attack will cause the Catalonians problems on Sunday evening.
José Luis Morales is undeniably Granotas’ most significant threat, with three goals and an assist in his last three outings telling.
Due to Sergi Roberto’s suspension after being sent off against Real Madrid last weekend, it will be the responsibility of Nelson Semedo to keep the 30-year-old Madrid-born winger quiet.
Levante will be without Ivan Lopez (cruciate ligament rupture), Raul Fernandez (hip), Tono (muscle) and Cheick Doukoure (knee) for the visit of Barcelona, all of whom are long-term injury absentees.
Blaugrana, meanwhile, are sweating on the status of centre-back Samuel Umtiti, who missed his side’s 5-1 win over Villarreal with a knee injury. The aforementioned Roberto is suspended.
Although Jemez’s Levante have enjoyed an impressive points haul of late, their history against Barcelona should be a reliable indicator as to which way this tie will go.
It has seemed for a long time that Valverde’s sole mission is to see out this season unbeaten, and Granota are unlikely to be the side to end that run.
Score Prediction: Levante 1-4 Barcelona