Levante vs. Barcelona: Preview, Live Stream, Start Time and More

Louis Hamwey@thecriterionmanAnalyst IIIApril 12, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 03:  Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona duels for the ball with Valmiro Lopes 'Valdo' of Levante UD during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Levante UD at Camp Nou on December 3, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 5-0.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona continues to try and claw away at Real Madrid’s La Liga lead as they travel to Levante this Saturday. Barca cannot afford to drop any points as Real look unlikely to drop any of their own with the six games remaining in each team’s schedule.

As they are in nearly every game they have played this season, Barca will be the odds-on favorites to come away with the full three points, but it would be foolish for them to take Leavante lightly.

The Granotas made great strides from last season as their second straight year in La Liga sees them likely to qualify for a Europa League spot. A solid balance between attack and defense keeps them competitive in nearly every match they play. They even have a big win under them, beating Real Madrid 1-0 earlier in the season.

Here is everything you need to know for the tie.

Where: Ciudad de Valencia, Spain

When: Saturday, April 14, 4:00 p.m. EDT

Watch: ESPNDeportes

Live Stream: ESPN3.com

Player to Watch: Victor Valdes

Valdes has been excellent between the pipes for Barca this season. The team has the best defensive record in the league, with only 23 goals conceded, and most of the time Valdes is minding that goal. However, Valdes tends to struggle when the most is on the line.

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Victor Valdes (R) of Barcelona celebrates beside Xabi Alonso of Real Madrid after Barcelona beat Real 3-1 in the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 10, 2011 in Madrid, Spa
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

He plays down to competition occasionally, seemingly not being as aware or exact when his team is so heavily favored. He has cut down a great deal on the kind of mistakes that have cost his team in the past, but it always leaves fans worrying.

What’s even more bothering is the potential he has to get yellow cards. Never one to back down from a disagreement and always willing to make his opinion known to the ref, he can get himself in trouble. Now this will matter little in this match, but with an El Clasico for the title less than two weeks away, another could have him out for that match.

He will have to be careful to not do something foolish now that could jeopardize the future.

Stats tell the story

Levante has scored 21 goals off of set pieces, accounting for 74 percent of their total scores. That is the highest in La Liga. If they can figure out a way to create fouls, they could have a chance.

Considering Barca concedes an average of 16 per game, that matchup could favor the underdogs.

What They’re Saying

The great Pele recently came out with another one of his egomaniacal quotes, suggesting the Messi is not really the best player in the world:

There's always this Maradona comparison, saying that he's better than Pele. Now some are saying that Messi is better than Pele. Well, he has to be better than Neymar first, which he isn't yet. He has more experience.

Messi could be looking to shut Pele up with another multi-goal game.

Prediction: Levante 1-4 Barcelona

Levante will get on the scoreboard early off of a set-piece situation, but after that it becomes all Barca. Even if Messi and others get a break after the mid-week fixture, the reserves will have little trouble punishing their hosts for the early lead.

Follow me on Twitter: @thecriterionman


    Live: Poland vs. Senegal

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Live: Poland vs. Senegal

    BBC Sport
    via BBC Sport

    Luis Suarez Licking Lips Ahead of Saudi Arabia Clash

    FC Barcelona logo
    FC Barcelona

    Luis Suarez Licking Lips Ahead of Saudi Arabia Clash

    via MARCA in English

    Juve Make Contact with Icardi

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Juve Make Contact with Icardi

    Calciomercato.com | Tutte le news sul calcio in tempo reale
    via Calciomercato.com | Tutte le news sul calcio in tempo reale

    Barca Sorry for Griezmann Saga...and Will Speak to Pique

    FC Barcelona logo
    FC Barcelona

    Barca Sorry for Griezmann Saga...and Will Speak to Pique

    Matt Jones
    via Bleacher Report