Barcelona aim to overcome defensive absences against struggling Levante

12:37, January 02, 2011      

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FC Barcelona will look to overcome key absences in defense when they entertain Primera Liga strugglers Levante in the Camp Nou Stadium this Sunday evening.

Levante travel to Barcelona on the back of an 8-0 humiliation at home to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey, but could have chosen a good moment to visit the BBVA Primera Liga leaders.

Barcelona will be without three central defenders as Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique struggle with muscle injuries, while Gerard Pique is out through suspension.

That will see Eric Abidal move from left back to central defense with Maxwell playing on the left, while either Andreu Fontas or Marc Bartra will step up from the B-team to start the game.

The Catalans have been in devastating form of late, scoring 26 goals in their last five league matches, but that triumphal run came to a halt when they were held 0-0 by Athletic Club Bilbao in the Copa del Rey just before Xmas.

That result means Barca will need to get a positive result from their return leg in Bilbao next Wednesday, but coach Pep Guardiola is unlikely to let that need affect his team selection for Sunday.

As usual he will start with Leo Messi, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez in attack with Balon D' or candidates Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta in midfield, supported by Sergio Busquets.

With Victor Valdes in goal, the defense will be made up of Dani Alves, Maxwell, Abidal and either Fontas or Bartra, with others such as Seydou Keita, Adriano and Javier Mascherano on the subs' bench.

Levante will do well to remember their first meeting with Real Madrid this season, when they held their rivals to a 0-0 draw with a rugged defensive display. Something similar is needed in the Camp Nou otherwise they could find themselves on the end of another heavy defeat.

Source: Xinhua
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