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Football | Spain

David Villa © Reuters Images

Villa injury blow for Barca



Striker David Villa has an ankle problem and will miss Barcelona's trip to Levante in La Liga, but Thiago Alcantara and Adriano Correia both return to the squad after injury, the club said on Saturday.

Spain striker Villa has netted six goals in 15 appearances this season since returning from a broken leg suffered almost 12 months ago, but has been struggling to get a regular starting place in the side.

"Villa had problems in Moscow (against Spartak), his ankle didn't like the artificial pitch but it is nothing serious," Barca coach Tito Vilanova told a news conference. "We preferred him to rest."

Brazilian defender Adriano returns after three weeks out with a muscle strain while promising Spanish Under-21 international Thiago is back after eight weeks on the sidelines with a knee problem.

Barca are unbeaten in La Liga and top the standings, three points ahead of Atletico Madrid, and eight ahead of their arch-rivals Real Madrid.

On Sunday, they visit fourth-placed Levante, who continue to defy expectations after qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages in midweek and running Real close a couple of weeks ago.

On a rain-soaked pitch, Levante fell 2-1 to a late Alvaro Morata goal in an encounter which left Cristiano Ronaldo needing stitches above his eye after getting an elbow in the face.

Vilanova dismissed the idea it was the toughest game Barcelona had to face before the winter break next month.

"They drew against Atletico and lost against Real but have won all their other games at home," Vilanova added.

"Our games with Levante have always been difficult but we have always been well received by their fans."

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