FULL TIME: Levante 0-5 Barcelona
- 2nd Half
- 1st Half
Levante UD - FC Barcelona
Liga - 21 September 2014
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This has been a very comfortable evening for Barcelona. The sending off robbed the game of any threat of an upset, and after Real Madrid's win yesterday Barcelona have responded in emphatic style.
Two minutes of stoppage time to be played.
Pedro and Messi drive at the Levante backline, but this time Rodas does well to stop the former in his tracks, although he should have played the pass back to the number 10 quicker.
Messi looks full of energy, even at this stage of the game. Which is a little strange, because if you think back to last season he looked weary, even at this stage of the season. And this summer he played in a World Cup!
This is about as comfortable as it gets for Barcelona. Levante showed at least a degree of ambition in the first half but the sending off of Vyntra really gave them no chance of making an impression.
Messi seems to have dropped into a deeper role in midfield, as Pedro scurries about up front, running into the channels for players like Xavi to pick out.
Barcelona travel to Malaga for a Liga fixture on Wednesday night in what will be a busy week for the Catalans. Enrique showed that he isn't hesistant to rotate his squad against APOEL during the week.
I'm a little surprised that Messi will play all 90 minutes. Barcelona have made all three subs, but the Argentine is the only Barcelona player to have played every game so far this season.
That pass from Xavi for that chance for Mathieu was quite incredible. There have been rumours that he could leave Barcelona in January, but he is still an exceptionally talented central midfielder.
So close to a sixth goal! A diagonal goal finds Mathieu making a run in at the back post, but the defender's header back across goal is a little too strong and Pedro can't stretch far enough.
Alves gets in behind the Levante backline but the flag is up for offside. Had it stayed down Messi would have been on for another goal, as Alves had chested it across goal for him.
Messi is now one goal off scoring his 400th goal for Barcelona. The way this game is going you certainly wouldn't bet againt him reaching that milestone before the final whistle blows.
The only surprise with that goal is that it took so long for Messi to make the scoresheet. Not sure what Jesus was doing though. He gave the ball away 10 yards off his line, giving Messi a clear target.
GOAL! Levante 0 Barcelona 5 (77 mins - Lionel Messi). He finally has his goal. Awful goalkeeping gives Messi the chance to chip over Jesus with the Levante number one 10 yards off his line.
Enrique seems to like Roberto. He is yet to make a start for Barcelona this season but always gets a run-out towards the end of the game. He's a good calming influence when the game is getting stretched.
Levante have now taken to kicking Barcelona off the pitch in the closing 15 minutes of this game. Diop commits about five fouls on three different players before he is actually penalised by the referee.
A big incentive at this stage of the game for Barcelona will be to keep a clean sheet. They have played five games so far this season and have yet to concede a goal. An impressive record.
Levante sub: David Barral OFF, Ruben Garcia ON.
Barcelona sub: Andres Iniesta OFF, Sergi Roberto ON.
Mathieu has looked really dodgy at the back for Barcelona tonight. Pique must be sitting on the bench wondering why he's not on the pitch ahead of the former Valencia centre-back.
The only thing that has been missing from this Barcelona performance is a Messi goal! He's playing very well but hasn't found the scoresheet. Surely that'll come in the last 20 minutes...
First chance of the second half for Levante falls to Camarasa after a hash of a clearance by Mathieu, but the winger toe-pokes his shot wide of the target from 20 yards out. Never troubled Bravo.
Remember I was talking about Real Madrid's 8-2 win over Deportivo La Coruna providing a statement yesterday? Well, we're starting to get into that territory with Barca here.
GOAL! Levante 0 Barcelona 4 (67 mins - Pedro). Barcelona walk the ball into the net for their fourth goal. Alba cuts the ball back from the byline, with the keeper out, for Pedro to finish into the empty net.
Levante are on a mission of damage limitation here now. They are sitting so deep and inviting so much pressure on them. Barcelona could score a few more tonight. I fear for Levante.
Barcelona sub: Sergio Busquets OFF, Xavi Hernandez ON.
Levante sub: Pape Diop OFF, Mohamed Sissoko ON.
Barcelona are enjoying themselves now. Messi and Alves are freestyling down the right side, although on this ocassion the Levante backline holds firm and they come away with the ball.
That was Sandro's second goal of the season. Remember, he's only 19 years old and has only played two games for Barcelona. This is the new generation for the Camp Nou side.
Levante sub: Jose Luis Morales OFF, Andreas Ivanschitz ON.
GOAL! Levante 0 Barcelona 3 (59 mins - Sandro Ramirez). What a simple goal for Barcelona! Messi is played down the right channel, before squaring for Sandro, who finishes with ease.
Rakitic looks for a pass through to Messi, who is lurking on the shoulder of the last defender, but for once the Croatian midfielder gets his angles wrong and Jesus collects with ease.
Alba looks a little groggy as he recovers from a clash of heads with a Levante defender. That was a sore one for the Barcelona left-back, who has been excellent tonight. Good display from him.
Diop lines up a freekick from the edge of the box following a clumsy handball by Pedro, but his strike hits the top of the Barcelona wall and the chance is gone for Levante.
Barral picks up the ball 30 yards out after a slack touch by Busquets, but he has no other option than to run at Barcelona. He had no less than five Barca players around him as he tried to break through!
Neymar doesn't look to be too happy with the decision to take him off. He landed hard on the back following a challenge with Lopez, and the club doctor has decided he can't continue.
Barcelona sub: Neymar OFF, Sandro Ramirez ON.
It's Neymar who is down on the turf, and indeed Barcelona aren't going to take any chances here with their most expensive player ever. It looks like Sandro will be taking his place.
It looks like Barcelona will be forced into a change here. I can't see who it is, but there is a player in orange crumpled down on the turf at the sideline on the far side.
Rakitic has taken on Xavi's mantel in this Barcelona team, although the Croatian perhaps carries more of an attacking threat, as demonstrated by his goal towards the end of the first half.
Here's a statistic for you. Messi has now missed 11 penalty kicks for Barcelona in his career. Count them. ELEVEN! That surprised me. If he has a weakness, it would seem to be from the penalty spot.
So how do Levante respond to going a man down, and 2-0 down, at the end of the first half? Do they hold on to what little they have at the moment, or do they have a go at Barcelona!
The second half has started at Ciudad de Valencia!
What did you make of the first half? Will Messi get his goal in the second half? What can Levante do to turn this game around, or at least make more of an impression after the break? Tweet me!
HALF TIME: Levante 0-2 Barcelona. The Catalans look good value to continue their perfect start to the season on the basis of that first half. Very comfortable for Enrique's side.
GOAL! Levante 0 Barcelona 2 (45 mins - Ivan Rakitic). What a strike from Rakitic! A corner kick is half cleared by Levante, but the Croatian smashes a shot into the top corner from 20 yards.
YELLOW CARD: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Well, what a few bizarre minutes that was. The referee initially looked to show the red card to Simao, before realising that it was Vyntra who made the challenge to bring down Messi.
WOW! Messi steps up to the penalty kick and absolutely blasts his effort wide of the target, with Jesus diving in the opposite direction. He is human after all. That was a terrible miss, too.
RED CARD! Loukas Vyntra (Levante)
PENALTY KICK TO BARCELONA! Messi is brought down in the box by Vyntra!
Neymar surges forward on the break having won the ball, but Morales hauls him to the ground knowing that he didn't have the pace to stick with the Brazilian striker.
YELLOW CARD: Jose Luis Morales (Levante)
Of course, Barcelona will be looking for more goals here. They will want to make a counter statement in light of Real Madrid's mightil impressive 8-2 win over Deportivo La Coruna yesterday.
Jesus was actually slightly unfortunate not to push the ball away from Neymar as he rounded the Levante goalkeeper. The ball hit off him but he couldn't get enough on his intervention.
YELLOW CARD: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona)
Lopez was playing Neymar onside when that ball was played by Messi. Those two finally look to be building some sort of understanding. Very nice piece of play from Barcelona.
GOAL! Levante 0 Barcelona 1 (34 mins - Neymar). Barcelona have the lead! Messi plays a wonderful pass through to Neymar, who rounds Jesus in the Levante goal and finishes into the empty net.
Morales almost gets on the end of a wonderful through ball in behind the Barcelona backline, but he can't stretch far enough and Bravo comes off his line to gather. Decent opportunity.
Apparently Levante are wearing the image of a frog on their shirt tonight to try and attract some investment from Japan, where the animal is regarded as a lucky symbol. Strange, but I like it.
And whenever thet do finally win the ball from Barcelona they are doing very little with it in bringing in forward. This time Lopez concedes a cheap foul when he should have been sparking a break.
While the home side enjoyed a decent spell of attacking pressure for a few minutes earlier in the half, now Barcelona are in complete control. Levante can't get near them on the ball.
The play down the right side is so narrow from Barcelona. They are stretching the pitch down the left, but Alves is being forced inside, which is unusual to see from him.
Levante are doing a good job of organising themselves well when Barcelona have possession on the edge of the box. The away side actually look more dangerous when they go direct!
Oooft! Neymar almost scores the opener for Barcelona. Mascherano plays a long ball down route one for the striker, who gets to the ball before Jesus who is miles off his line, but his header goes wide.
Half chance for Levante! Garcia plays a wonderful curling cross into the penalty area for Barral to attack, but the striker can't make enough of a contact on his header and the ball flashes wide of he target.
Looking at the replays of that incident between Rodas and Neymar, the Levante defender should have seen a yellow card. It was a really cynical piece of play from him.
Rodas bumps into the bottom of Neymar's back and the Brazilian crumples in a heap on the floor. Of course, that's where Neymar was injured during the World Cup. That was deliberate.
The best of Barcelona's play is coming down the left side, where Alba and Neymar are being afforded acres of space to do as they please. Levante need to tighten that wing of the pitch up.
Big save from Jesus in the Levante goal! Iniesta pokes a Rakitic pass through to Neymar, who from a tight angle sees his shot smothered by the on-rushing goalkeeper. Good chance.
Barcelona have been the better team so far, which is what you would expect from a team of their quality, but they have lacked composure in the final third, which is strange for them.
Alba needs to compose himself! Iniesta plays a wonderful pass into Alba down the left side, but unmarked the full-back slashes his shot across goal and well wide. He should have taken his time!
The referee has ditched the vanishing spray! Gonzalez Gonzalez is having problems keeping the spray attached to his shorts and now he's just chucked it off the pitch. Show of petulance from the ref.
What a chance for Levante! Mathieu gets caught out, allowing Morales to get in behind the Barcelona defence, but his pass across the face of goal is cut out by Rakitic before it reaches Camarasa.
On the other hand Levante have yet to score a Liga goal so far this season! Their best chance of doing so tonight is from a set piece, where Barcelona have always looked vulnerable.
Of course, Barcelona are looking to maintain their perfect start to the season, having won all of their three league games before tonight. They look like the frontrunners in La Liga at the moment.
The home side win a corner, which is cleared by Barcelona to the edge of the box. Morales meets the ball on the volley but his effort flashes past the post. Decent shot, but always hard to pull off.
Interesting that Enrique has once again favoured Mathieu over Pique. Although that could be down to the face that the Spanish international is still to full recover from injury.
Luis Enrique has made no less than eight changes to the side that played in the Champions League during the week. This is more like his strongest starting lineup if you ask me.
Levante make their way to the edge of the Barcelona box for the first time in the game, but Diop's shot from 20 yards is saved easily by Bravo.
This Levante team isn't as strong as the side they had two or three years ago, when they were in the Europa League, but they can still cause an upset. And remember they finished 10th last season!
The omens aren't good for Levante tonight. The Valencia-based side haven't beaten Barcelona in 50 years. They have played them 18 times in that time since.
Neymar gets the chance to sprint at the Levante backline, throwing in a stepover as he looks to get past Rodas, but the centre back sticks out a leg and makes the challenge.
First real chance of the game! Neymar pulls back an Iniesta cross from the byline, with Mathieu arriving as a late runner in the box. But the flicked shot is deflected wide of the target.
This will be a very tall order for Levante. They are already camped deep inside their own half, with Barcelona dominating the early possession. You wouldn't expect anything else.
We're under way in the first half! It's Levante against Barcelona!
Pre-match odds: Levante 14/1, Draw 6/1, Barcelona 2/11
TEAM NEWS: Levante - Jesus, Tono, Vyntra, Rodas, Lopez, Diop, Simao, Camarasa, Barral. /// Barcelona - Bravo, Alves, Mascherano, Mathieu, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Neymar.
I'm Graham Ruthven and you can contact me on Twitter to let me know your thoughts ahead of the game. Can Barcelona make the partnership between Lionel Messi and Neymar finally click? Can Levante cause an upset? Tweet me!
Good evening and welcome to Eurosport's LIVE coverage of the Spanish Liga game between Levante and Barcelona. We'll bring you all the goals and action as it happens. Kick-off: 20:00.