Madrid, Spain | XINHUA | FC Barcelona are back in action on today Tuesday as the race for the La Liga title and to avoid relegation continues with a midweek round of matches.
Ronald Koeman’s men missed the chance to leapfrog Atletico Madrid in the title race when they were held to a 0-0 draw by the league leaders in the Camp Nou on Saturday and they travel to mid-table Levante two points off the top of the table, meaning anything other than a win will probably mean the end of their title hopes.
Levante seem to have taken their foot off the gas in recent weeks after an intense season saw them reach the semifinals of the Copa del Rey and they have just one win in their last seven league matches.
However, players such as Jose Luis Morales Jorge de Frutos and Roger Marti are still capable of causing Barca plenty of problems and with another round of matches next weekend Koeman will have to consider rotating his squad for the game.
Ronald Araujo is likely to come into the team in central defense, while Ousmane Dembele will probably give Antoine Griezmann a rest. Meanwhile, Sergio Busquets is almost certain to miss out after suffering a fissure in his upper jaw after a collision with Stefan Savic during Saturday’s draw.
Barca missed Busquets’ influence after he was replaced by youngster Illax Moriba, and Koeman will have to decide whether to continue with Illax or to bring Sergi Roberto (who could also start at right back) or Miralem Pjanic into his starting 11.
A win for Barca in the Ciudad de Valencia Stadium would take them top of the table and put pressure on Atletico Madrid, who have a difficult home game against fifth place Real Sociedad on Thursday, and Real Madrid, who travel to Granada on Thursday.
Tuesday also sees a mid-table affair between Osasuna and Cadiz, while there is a crucial game in the relegation zone as second from bottom Elche entertain fifth from bottom Alaves.
Elche lost 2-0 to Real Sociedad on Friday after playing over 80 minutes with 10 men after Raul Guti was sent off and Guti will be suspended, but with just two points separating the two sides, a home win would lift Elche out of the bottom three and pile the pressure on Huesca, Valladolid, Eibar and Getafe, who all have games on Wednesday and Thursday.