Centre-back Gerard Pique has been given a rest for Barcelona’s trip to Las Palmas on Saturday, with manager Luis Enrique opting to rotate his squad ahead of a difficult fixture against Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The Catalans are in the middle of one of the most hectic phases of the season, with games coming thick and fast across three competitions. In fact, Barcelona are scheduled to play a game every three days until the beginning of March. However, Luis Enrique believes his squad is capable of rising to the challenge.
“If anyone has demonstrated that they are capable of playing every three days, regardless of the rival and the competition, it is us,” a confident Enrique was quoted as saying by Barcelona’s official website on the eve of the match against Las Palmas.
Barca make the trip without Pique, Busquets
The Catalans have enough depth in their squad to give a few of their fringe players a chance against the relegation-threatened Las Palmas. As such, Enrique has decided to give centre-back Gerard Pique some rest ahead of their Champions League round of 16 first-leg showdown against Arsenal.
To add to that, Barcelona will also have to do without the services of defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets, as the 27-year-old is suspended for the game. While this gives the young Sergi Roberto a chance to slot into the defensive midfield role, it would also give Busquets some much needed rest ahead of the Arsenal game.
“Luis Enrique will be without midfield lynchpin Sergio Busquets due to suspension, and the injured Rafinha.The manager has also decided to leave out Masip, Douglas, Piqué and Adriano,” announced Barcelona in an official statement on their website.
Enrique wary of poor pitch
Barcelona are a team that like to exert their own style of play on any match they play. They like to keep the ball and pass it around in slick moves. Normally, the pitches at the top-flight Spanish clubs would facilitate this kind of football. However, the story could be a bit different at the Estadio Gran Canaria, where they face Las Palmas on Saturday.
“It [the pitch] could have an impact [on the starting XI selection], but I hope that the field is in a good state. While we have not seen it, we do not know,” said Enrique.
The pitch at the Estadio Gran Canaria was reportedly suffering from a fungus infection, and the heavy rain and wind predicted for Saturday is unlikely to aid Barcelona. Despite the stormy weather conditions, however, the fixture is set to go ahead as scheduled.