14 April 2012

Forward thinking strictly forbidden

22.00, Ràdio Barça – Barça and Levante’s aspirations cross paths tonight at the Ciutat de València, with games with Chelsea and Real Madrid just around the corner.

This season’s surprise package Levante are just two points adrift of the Champions League places, while FC Barcelona are four points short of league leaders Real Madrid.

Both Levante and FC Barcelona are within touching distance of their respective targets. The Valencian side are just two points off fourth place, which would send them through to the Champions League qualifiers, while the Catalans have managed to narrow the gap between themselves and the former runaway league leaders to just four points. Both teams come face to face at the Ciutat de València tonight (22.00, TV3, La Sexta and Ràdio Barça), the first game of a decisive week for Barcelona, in which they will also meet Chelsea (Wednesday 18) and Real Madrid (Saturday 21). In order to keep their title hopes alive, for the time being, the Barça players have been ordered not to even think about either of those two matches.

Guardiola is glad to be able to recall both Alves and Piqué from injury, but some minor trouble with his right thigh has kept Seydou Keita out of the squad of eighteen. The Malian was the scorer of the last goal Barça scored away to Levante, just over a year ago, and which served to mathematically clinch Barça’s third league title in a row. Cesc, who was suspended against Getafe, also returns to a squad that also includes two Barça B players in Tello and Montoya.

Javi Venta is the biggest incognito in the home squad. One of the full back’s left toes was trodden upon in last Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat at Sporting Gijón, and the player was unable to train on Thursday or Friday. Also absent is Del Horno, who is out until May.

Fifth placed Levante is the only team to have won at home to Real Madrid all season (1-0), while other strong sides have also been beaten at the Ciutat de València, including Sevilla (1-0) and Atlético Madrid (2-0). (via FCBarcelona.com)