With a dispiriting 2-0 loss to Valencia in new manager Quique Setien's first La Liga game at the helm, FC Barcelona dropped out of the La Liga lead. And after arch-rival Real Madrid scored a 1-0 win in the Madrid derby Saturday, Barca find themselves at risk of falling six points off the pace on Sunday, unless that can take the full three from 13th-place Levante UD — an outcome that at least the oddsmakers appear to expect with a high degree of certainty.
The Frogs, as Levante are nicknamed, come in on the back of three consecutive losses in the Spanish league, scoring only a single goal since the calendar flipped to 2020. That one came from striker Roger Marti — who leads the team with nine for the season — in a 2-1 loss to Atlético Madrid on January 4. Barcelona, on the other hand, have been the offensive force that they always seem to be, leading La Liga with 50 goals in 21 games, including a league-best 14 from six-time Ballon D'or winner Lionel Messi, who has needed just 16 games to reach that total.
But in a Copa del Rey win over Leganes at mid-week, Messi scored a brace as Barcelona blasted home five goals while keeping a clean sheet. The Catalan side will look to take that momentum back into league play when they take on Levante, as they try to keep their quest for a third straight title alive.According to odds published by Bleacher Report, Messi's team is the overwhelming favorite at odds of -800, meaning that to win back a profit of $100, a bettor would need to wager $800. But Levante are listed at +1,500 underdogs. In other words, a wager of $100 returns a profit of $1,500 if The Frogs pull off the upset win.
But in the reverse fixture, Levante had a shockingly easy time handling the defending champions, cruising to a 3-1 win at City of Valencia Stadium, as recorded by Soccerway.
Messi scored the only Barcelona goal in that game, but the Blaugrana failed to hold the 1-0, first-half lead, surrendering three in a seven-minute span, a stunning defensive collapse from which they never bounced back.
Heading into Sunday's contest, Messi's partner at the front, Luis Suarez -- who has been responsible for 11 of Barcelona's league goals -- remains sidelined with a knee injury that will require surgery, and according to CBS Sports, he is likely to miss the remainder of the 2019/2020 season.
The FC Barcelona vs. Levante UD La Liga Round 22 match is set to get underway at 9 p.m. Central European Time at the iconic 99,300-seat Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, on February 2. In the United States, where the Qatar-based cable network BeIn sports will telecast the game, the match kicks off at 3 p.m. EST, noon on the west coast.