06 Jan Dembele in contention for Barcelona’s LaLiga match against Levante
Ousmane Dembele is likely to again start amongst the substitutes when Barcelona face Levante on Sunday.
The 20-year-old, a 105million euro signing in August, suffered a hamstring injury on his LaLiga debut for Barca in September, but came off the bench in the midweek 1-1 Copa del Rey draw at Celta Vigo.
The Frenchman has been included in Barca’s squad to face Levante, and though coach Ernesto Valverde said he could start, another substitute appearance seems more likely.
“Everyone on the list has the possibility of starting,” Valverde said in a press conference. “I have already said that we have to be careful with him because he has to get involved with the team’s dynamics again.”
Barcelona will begin the match with a six-point lead at the top of the table following Atletico Madrid’s victory over Getafe on Saturday, and are overwhelming favourites against a Levante side languishing in 16th place.
But Valverde warned his players that Levante can be a more dangerous proposition away from home – having lost only one of their seven matches on the road this season, drawing five and winning one.
“They are a team that is doing better away from home than at home,” Valverde said. “They have only lost a single match. We have to work hard to win this match. We respect the opponent a lot.”
Levante coach Juan Muniz has challenged his players to neutralise the threat of Lionel Messi in order to give themselves a chance of picking up a result in Barcelona.
He said: “Messi is a great player, but I prefer to talk about my players who are also very good players and they are going to make Messi seem small. “We will try to ensure that Messi does not play, does not participate, we will try to play a good match.”
It is bold talk, but the task will be made no easier by a long list of absentees for the visitors. Roger and Chema are injured, while Enis Bardhi, Jose Morales and Jose Campana are also suspended for the trip to the Nou Camp.