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December 3, 2011
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: José Antonio Teixeira Vitienes
• Attendance: 76000
Fàbregas 4', 33'
L. Messi 55'
A. Sánchez 61'
This, sadly, is where I leave you. However I do so with this in mind; courteous of @nhlax447 who tweeted: "If Barca have a start like this in the Classico next week I'll run in my underwear blowing my vuvuzela." 3-0 at half-time to Guardiola's side and this happens...so much to look forward to. That's all from me, Daniel Quinton-Navarro. Ta ta.
There it is then, Barcelona move back to within three points of Real Madrid ahead of el Clasico a week today. Both teams prepared in the best possible fashion, goals, goals and goals plus keeping a clean sheet will have done both the world of good.
90' + 2'
He doesn't, but the referee still brings an end to proceedings in what has a been a highly entertaining match. 5-0 to Barcelona it finishes.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Víctor Valdés
90' + 1'
Levante finishing on a high here, but Kone's cross (yes, he is still on the pitch) goes out of play before coming back into play and should Valdes launch this one it'll be the end of a easy Barcelona victory.
Mayhem in Camp Nou as Iniesta puts the ball into the net following Pedro Lopez's failure to clear the ball but it is ruled out for offside despite the ball coming off of a Levante player's boot....absolute clanger from the officials that one; and it goes to show how devoted Barca are as they argue against the decision.
Pedro is involved from the resulting throw-in, combining with Iniesta who puts an inviting cross into the area but there is nobody making a darting to run to direct the ball home - where is David Villa when you need him?
Happy to keep the ball here are Barcelona and out of nowhere Xavi manages to put Pedro one-on-one but the Spanish international isn't never assured of himself in front of goal and Munua makes a decent save after staying on his feet.
Sauntering to an end here as Barca show their class with one-touch passing deep into Levante's half, before spreading the ball to Cuenca who misjudges his cross to give Juan Ignacio Martinez's side some rest-bite.
And it is Alexis and Messi that combine once more, this time the Chilean touches it to the No. 10 but Leo is too obvious as he looks to dart back inside and Ballesteros takes the ball away.
Messi looks to run in behind Cabral with Xavi looking to clip on over the top but the defender judges the flight of the ball well and heads clear any danger; inevitably however to a Barcelona player and they will come back at Munua's goal.
Dangerous free-kick from Levante after Valdo does well but Suarez can't clear the wall with the delivery.
MESSI! MISSES! This one, this time is a sitter by anyone's standard. Alexis Sanchez flicks on Xavi's near post free-kick finding the Argentine unmarked but he mishits the volley wide of the target from three meters out.
Nabil El Zhar has proved his worth since coming on in the second-half retaining Dani Alves as an attacking influence in the process. The ex-Liverpool man stands up the Brazilian full-back before working space to middle the ball, it comes back to the winger but he can't do much from such a tight angle.
Asier Del Horno
Gustavo Daniel Cabral
Bit of tennis football as the ball trades sides a number of times in quick succession until Asier del Horno pulls up with an injury forcing Levante into using their final substitution as the match heads into the final 15 minutes.
El Zhar does well to win a corner after showing a decent burst of pace to get there ahead of Dani Alves, which is difficult to do but Levante waste the set-piece and Barcelona ominously bring it clear.
Exhibitionist play from Barca here as Messi rolls the ball into Sanchez who moves his entire body one way before flicking his foot the opposite way trying to return the ball to his team mate but Munua was alert to the danger and got there ahead of Messi.
It's Barca at their best, Iniesta sends Messi clear on the wing with a superb pass that changes defence into attack in one movement and the Argentine beats the first man with ease and is close to working a shooting position but Del Horno comes in with a good challenge conceding the corner kick.
Fabregas runs across the edge of the penalty area threatening to to shoot but he touches the ball into the path of Messi instead and the Argentine works a shot on gal but it is too tame to trouble the defender on the line and Levante complete the clearance when Iniesta is caught in possession on the edge of the area.
Alexis Sanchez comes into a central position and should do better from a free-header just eight meters out following Messi's cross but the Chilean can only direct his effort straight at Munua.
Slight drop in tempo of the game as Barcelona stroke the ball around with ease, but without moving forward with an impetus.
Still half-an-hour of football left in this one, and unless Barcelona decide to settle with what they have they could score as many as they like tonight. Levante, as well as they have done so far this season, unfortunately just haven't turned up tonight, and considering they beat Real Madrid that's a great shame.
Goal Alexis Sánchez
GOAL!!!! Sanchez gets the move going with a brave header into the path of Iniesta, who without needing to look up shifts it onto Xavi. The Spaniard then passes it inside to Messi who helps it onto no other than Alexis Sanchez to sublimely chip the ball into the far side via a slight deflection. Some finish.
Javi Venta comes forward to try and launch a Levante attack and they commit a decent number forward only for the defender to lose the ball, and this could be trouble for Levante who are short at the back.
Nabil El Zhar
They are at it again soon again, and it is Messi once again at the center of everything good for Barcelona. The Argentine plays a neat one-two with Cuenca inside the area but Leo can only put the ball wide of the target with the goal gaping, by his standards that is the miss of the century.
Assist Daniel Alves
MESSI!!! GOAL!!! From a short corner, Dani Alves slides the ball into the path of Leo Messi who comes in from the right side before powering a low shot into the far corner to make it 4-0. Stunning stuff from Messi & Co.
Xavi works the ball out to Alexis who tries to beat his man but settles for the corner kick in the end which no doubt, Barcelona will take short.
Levante do manage to win a corner, and they take it short before swinging the ball into the area where Del Horno is first to it bringing a diving save out of Valdes who tips it around the post.
Abidal is in a tight spot after some good pressing from Levante's forward men but then Pedro Lopez goes in hard on the full-back giving him a get-out-of-jail free card, and a free-kick.
Alexis chips the ball delightfully over the 'keeper to score Barca's foruth goal only for it to be chalked off for offside. He was just a fraction ahead of the last man, but it was such a wonderful finish, can't it stand? Nope, 3-0 it remains....he'll just have to do it again.
Messi moves on to the touchline and Del Horno follows but the Argentine is quicker than the defender on his feet and spins away from the Spaniard but Messi then over hits his next touch and Ballesteros clears.
Alexis and Fabregas combine brilliantly with the Chile international flicking the ball back into the path of the Spanish midfielder but Cesc gets the ball caught underneath his feet and can't find the target with his shot.
Iniesta finds space in that gap between Levante's midfield and defence before trying to slip the ball into Messi but his pass has too much on it and Munua does well to come out and collect the loose ball.
Here we go. Barcelona begin the second 45 in similar fashion by playing keep ball but once or twice they show their sharpness and awareness as they push up the pitch into the final third.
AzharAbedi on Twitter predicts 5-0 to Barcelona, can see it happening if the second half is a repeat of first, and talking of the second half.....
DonZacassini on Twitter: "I thought Levante were up to the task to get a draw at least. I'm disappointed #Barcelona #Levante." Following Barca's defeat to Getafe last weekend, understandable.
Remember to tweet any thoughts you may have (@dquintonnavarro) about that first half. News on Puyol's injury as it comes in folks.
And there it is, fifteen minutes of recovery for Levante as the ponder over how they are going to find a way back into the match after goals from Fabregas (2) and Cuenca have given the Blaugrana a three goal lead at the break.
45' + 1'
Corner is conceded by Sergio Busquets just before the half-time whistle but it comes to nothing as the half draws to an end.
Yellow Card Cesc Fàbregas
Xavi Torres brings the ball away at pace, and for a moment Levante have four against four with Dani Alves in an attacking position and Sergio Busquets on the deck but the midfielder cannot find the right pass allowing Barcelona to get back in numbers and clear their lines.
Del Horno is booked for a cynical foul, three of the four Levante defenders having already been booked after a quick break from Barca who take it short before Fabregas' heavy touch gifts the ball back to the traveling side.
Yellow Card Asier Del Horno
Barca break after Valdo isn't awarded a free-kick, which he and every Levante fan thinks he should get, but Messi uncharacteristically wastes the pass and Del Horno clears his defensive line.
Damage limitation now for Levante but they cannot seem to contain Barca who keep on knocking in pursuit of a fourth. Cuenca's shift to the left, having already paid dividends continues to do so but Levante to well to close out the space ahead of him this time around.
Assist Andrés Iniesta Luján
3-0! ISAAC CUENCA!!! The 20-year old had switched side the left flank and the ball is passed along the lines before Iniesta finds the youngster in space coming in off the touchline to beautifully place the ball into the opposite corner. Check, and mate anyone?
Early substitution is looking likely here as Dani Alves is stripped down and ready to come on, no injury news from the touchline but I'll bring it to you as soon as possible....as soon as possible is now - Carles Puyol is the man to make way.
Goal Cesc Fàbregas
FABREGAS! GOAL NUMBER TWO!! Xavi's swings this one into the danger zone opposed to going for cross and he finds the ex-Arsenal man with an inch perfect goal and Cesc makes no mistake in placing his header to the right-side of Munua.
A free-kick in a similar position to the one that Barca had a few minutes ago, this time it is a few yards further back which will aid Xavi in his delivery.
Yellow Card Ballesteros
Kone is up highest to a long ball and heads on for Valdo who was running beyond the striker but he is flagged offside. Puyol was caught by Kone as they both went up for the ball with the Barca captain coming off second best.
Farinos delivers, and it is a testing cross for the Barca defence who are lucky to see the ball bounce kindly off of Sergio Busquets before Puyol completes the clearance.
Xavi Torres earns a free-kick higher up the pitch on the far side for Levante and it looks like this time they are opting to swing his one in to the danger zone.
Xavi steps up to strike the free-kick but it is a tight angle and the Spanish international doesn't get his accurate right putting it wide of the target.
Yellow Card Javi Venta
Fabregas sends a wonderful ball between full-back and center-back attempting to find Sanchez on the far-side and the Chile International gets there ahead of Javi Venta giving Barca a free-kick in a decent position, and an early yellow card for the defender.
Much better from Levante, with a sustained period of keeping the ball before they look to shift it forward and they do so brilliantly before Iborra attempts one pass to many which Kone cannot catch up.
3-4-3 is working for Barca at the moment with neat inter-changing of passes but Iniesta and Buesquets are on different wave-lengths giving the ball back to Levante.
Why, why, why? Levante opt to play it short instead of playing a high ball into the area...Barcelona close them down quickly at the Catalans recover possession.
Levante bring the ball away on the counter with some smart passing and Valdo manages to turn Fabregas who commits a professional foul inside the center circle. Better stuff that from Levante.
Messi strikes it, lifts it over and around the wall forcing Munua into a decent save but the 'keeper can only parry it to Carles Puyol, who from six yards out should be doubling Barca's lead but can only prod it back into the grateful arms of Munua.
Confusion as the referee appears to give advantage to Barcelona following a challenge on the edge of the area, but despite Guardiola's retaining possession the official gives the free-kick....Messi territory.
MESSI!! Beautiful stuff from the Argentine, with the ball appearing to be under his control he eases past three Levante players with deft touches, and drops of the shoulder before finding space to shoot only for a deflection to put it behind for a corner.
Valdes is required to come out of his area to mop up the danger following a long ball over the top which Kone pursuits with pace in abundance but the Spanish 'keeper gets there first and pumps the ball upfield.
Busquets this time shifts the ball out to Cuenca, with Juanfran affording him too much space at present but the defender does well to reduce the angle and Barca have to go back one again.
Cuenca finds room on the near touchline and Iniesta, as expected, picks him out with a beautiful cross-field pass but the youngsters cross is a little over hit and despite Messi trying to recover the chance it goes when Iniesta fires over following the Argentinians' pull-back.
Levante have two banks of four that Barcelona have to get through to score, but they cannot cope with the movement of South American duo Messi and Alexis who are darting in between the lines and finding space at will with Fabregas arriving late.
They opt to keep ball for a while before Cuenca receives the ball on the near touchline up against Juanfran. The winger slows the ball up before expertly touching it past the defender and bursts into the area but his low cross is brilliantly cut out by a sliding challenge from Del Horno. Levante survive. Just.
Levante venture forward for what seems to the be the first time and Xavi Torres does well to keep the ball moving but Alexis manages to the steal the ball away from the midfielder as Barca look to break.
Messi slides Alexis in on the far side, and the former Udinese man cuts back trying to return the ball to the Argentine but Ballesteros does will to play the ball off of Messi and out for a goalkick.
Crisp, accurate passing re-established in the final third as Barcelona look to create some space around Levante's area with Messi, Fabregas and Iniesta all involved but eventually an "impossible" pass is intercepted allowing Levante to hack clear.
Valdes is tested soon after Barca take the lead with a long-range effort from Iborra but the Spanish stopper is alert and plucks the ball out of the air.
Assist Andrés Iniesta Luján
Goal Cesc Fàbregas
GOAL!! CESC FABREGAS!! Wonderful, patience passing from Barcelona, as several passes, including a superb back-heel flick from Iniesta gives the ex-Arsenal man the chance to open the scoring inside four minutes which he duly takes.
Barca then work it forward to the near touchline with Cuenca providing the width before the youngster opts to go back to Sergio Busquets to keep the ball.
....And we are underway; Barcelona - donning their customary home kit are attacking from left-to-right in this first-half, and as expected they begin the match by sleekly passing it amongst their defence and deep lying midfield.
At the Camp Nou the players have trotted out onto the pitch and we are seconds away from 2nd against 4th....
FACT: Lionel Messi has netted 16 times in La Liga, all coming at Camp Nou accounting for half of the goals that Barcelona have scored at home.
Controversy has surrounded Barca after Gerard Pique picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Rayo. Debate surfaced as to whether the defender had picked up the booking deliberately to avoid missing el Clasico, with a two-match ban rumoured. However, a committee met, deciding on a customary single game ban meaning Guardiola will welcome back his first-choice centre-half for the match against Real Madrid. What do you think, is a one-match fair or should he have been made to miss the clash against Mourinho's men? (Tweet: @dquintonnavarro)
Barcrlona coach Pep Guardiola has urged his players to focus on their match against Levante ahead of the Catalans trip to Bernabeu. Speaking before the game Guardiola said: "The most important match is always the next one, against Levante. We have to stay as consistent as possible. It all comes down to one thing, playing your game and trying to win."
EL CLASICO COUNTDOWN: 7 days, 1 hour, 2 minutes. Buzzing.
Tweet, tweet-twooooo! You guys can pass on any thoughts you have of tonight's crunch match between Barclona and Levante; be it disagreements with the Starting XI's or looking ahead to el Clasico by tweeting. Include @dquintonnavarro to share your thoughts, I'll try and publish as many as humanly possible.
LEVANTE STARTING XI: Munua; Javi Venta, Ballesteros, Del Horno, Juanfran; Farinos; Pedro Lopez, Xavi Torres, Iborra, Valdo; Kone. Substitutes: Navas; Wellington, Cabral, Rodas, Pallardo, Suarez, El Zhar.
BARCELONA STARTING XI: Valdes; Mascherano, Puyol, Abidal; Sergio Busqeuts, Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta; Cuenca, Messi, Sanchez. Substitutes: Pinto; Alves, Kieta, Pedro, Thiago, Maxwell, Villa.
David Villa starts on the bench for Barcelona adding fuel to the fire linking the former-Valencia star with a move to Liverpool in January as he becomes increasingly frustrated at Camp Nou.
TEAM NEWS: Villa on bench for Barclona, whilst Sergio Busquets starts despite being a yellow card away from suspension; Arouna Kone to play as a lone striker for Levante.
FACT: Levante have lost on the last six visits to Camp Nou in La Liga, despite scoring on five separate occasions.
Levante ended a run of three defeats with a comprehensive 4-0 rout of Sporting Gijon to move them to within two points of the Blaugrana.
Pep Guardiola's side returned to winning ways midweek with a 4-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano after a surprise defeat to Getafe where the Catalans failed to score (for only the second time in La Liga this season).
Welcome, Daniel Quinton-Navarro here and I'll be bringing you Goal.com's LIVE coverage of Barcelona vs. Levante at Camp Nou.
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