Everything you need to know as the Catalans return to action in the Primera Division after the recent winter break
Barcelona will look to take another step towards winning La Liga as they host Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Ernesto Valverde’s side lead the Primera Division by nine points from Atletico Madrid after 17 rounds of matches and are provisionally 14 clear of Real Madrid after beating Zinedine Zidane’s side 3-0 in the Clasico clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on December 23.
Madrid have played one fewer fixture due to their participation in the Club World Cup, but Los Blancos have a mountain to climb to catch their fierce rivals.
Here, Goal takes a look at everything you need to know ahead of the Catalans’ first Liga game of 2018.
Ousame Dembele returned to action for Barca as a substitute in the 1-1 draw away to Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night and will be available again on Sunday.
Defender Samuel Umtiti is still sidelined, while striker Paco Alcacer is doubtful.
Sergio Busquets is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the league season in the Clasico win over Real Madrid before Christmas, but Valverde has no other players banned for the game against Levante.
BARCELONA POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
With Busquets suspended, Ivan Rakitic and Paulinho are set to start together in central midfield for Barcelona on Sunday.
Sergi Roberto should also feature, either in midfield or at right-back, after he started on the bench against Celta Vigo on Thursday night.
Aleix Vidal is also in contention for a start in the Camp Nou clash if Valverde decides to rest Nelson Semedo, who played 90 minutes against Celta.
Further forward, Dembele is back from injury. However, the summer signing is unlikely to be used from the start after more than two months on the sidelines.
LEVANTE TEAM NEWS
Levante beat Espanyol 2-1 in the Copa del Rey at Cornella on Thursday, but the promoted side have been struggling somewhat after a strong start in La Liga.
The Valencia-based side have drawn three of their last four matches 0-0, losing the other at home to Athletic Club, and are down in 16th place with just 18 points from their 17 games.
Midfielders Enis Bardhi, Jose Luis Morales and Jose Campana are all suspended for the trip to Camp Nou, while defender Ivan Lopez and forward Alex Alegria are out injured. Centre-back Chema Rodriguez is doubtful.
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
Barcelona versus Levante kicks off at 16:15 local time at Camp Nou on Sunday and will be broadcast live in the UK on Sky Sports Football and also on Sky Sports Main Event from 15:10 GMT.
In the United States, the game can be watched live on television on beIN Sports and kicks off at 10:15 ET.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
Barcelona have only lost one of their 22 La Liga games against Levante, their sole defeat coming away from home in a 5-1 loss back in October 1964. They have won 17 of those meetings and drawn the other four.
The Blaugrana have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last 10 league games against Levante, conceding exactly one goal in each of the other three.
Levante have only won one of their last 12 Liga games (drawing six and losing five), a 2-0 success against Las Palmas in November, failing to score in four of the last five.
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Lionel Messi has had a hand in 25 goals in his last 12 league games against Levante (15 goals and 10 assists).
No Levante player has scored in La Liga since November 19, with their goal against Athletic on December 12 an own goal netted by Aymeric Laporte.