Lopez recalls former success against Barcelona ahead of clash with leaders
Levante boss Paco Lopez recalled his squad’s 2018 5-4 defeat of Barcelona as they prepare to lock horns with the LaLiga leaders again on Saturday.
Lopez was three months into his role as head coach when he led the club to the victory, which was the first and only loss inflicted on Barca during their league winning 2017-18 campaign.
Levante are 11th in the Spanish top-flight having won four of their 11 matches so far, whereas Barcelona head the league by just a point from second-placed Real Madrid.
“Across the season there are very few able to beat them,” Lopez said at a pre-match press conference.
“That year (2018) was the penultimate day and nobody had been able to beat them and we did it. It is extremely difficult to win at Barca and you have to do the perfect things, you have to get a perfect match.
“With work, faith, commitment and that attitude and conviction, plus the help of the 22,000 who will be behind us, this team is capable of everything.
“What you have to do is good collective work and do those perfect things, but this team will show up.”
Despite the stellar form of his squad, who have been victorious in their past seven fixtures across all competitions, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde remains wary of the Valencia-based side.
“Levante have a deadly counterattack with very fast players,” he said at a pre-match press conference.
“It’ll be a complicated match like in previous years.
“We’re doing well in the standings, but it’s a long season and right now we need to win the games we play on the road. Levante won’t be easy to play against.”
The La Liga titleholders occupy their top spot but their reputation for early dominance was somewhat challenged by two early losses to both Athletic Bilbao and Granada.
Valverde said: “We wanted to lead in La Liga since the beginning, we didn’t have a perfect start to the season but we are back to the top again.
“If you are at the top in La Liga and UCL, you are already where you want (to be) but we still have a long way to go. We have tough games upcoming now, against Levante and Slavia.”