League leaders Barcelona travel to the Canary Islands, where they will be hosted by Quique Setién’s UD Las Palmas at the Estadio Gran Canaria on Sunday.
The last time these sides faced each other the Nou Camp, it didn’t end too well for Las Palmas. They were handed a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the Catalan giants as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Arda Turan and even Aleix Vidal got on the scoresheet.
Since then, Los Amarillos have dropped 4 places and now currently sit at 14th place, having secured their top flight status for next season. Barcelona have gone up 2 places on the table and are currently at the summit of the Spanish top flight.
However, they are level on points with Real Madrid who have a game in hand and will be looking to keep the pressure on Los Blancos with a victory.
This will be Quique Setien’s last home game as Las Palmas manager and they would certainly like to send him off with a victory, besides that, the majority of the pressure is on Barcelona, who are desperately trying to keep a hold on their title.
UD Las Palmas
Defender Dani Castellano and striker Tana are both likely to miss out due to injuries. However, Quique Setien has reason to smile, as Kevin Prince Boateng and Jese are once again available for selection and will likely go straight back into the starting XI.
Helder Lopes will likely come in place of Castellano at left back, while former Barcelona winger Alen Halilovic will come in place of the injured Tana on the right flank. Jonathan Viera will mostly retain his attacking midfield role behind Boateng, who will likely return as the sole striker.
Helder Lopes, Pedro Bigas, Mauricio Lemos and David Simon will likely make up Las Palmas’ back four, with Vincente Gomez and Roque Mesa as holding midfielders in front of them. There is a slight doubt regarding Gomez’s fitness, in which case Angel Montoro might get a look in.
Predicted Starting XI(4-2-3-1): Varas; Lopes, Bigas, Lemos, Simon; Gomez, Mesa; Jese, Viera, Halilovic; Boateng
Sergi Roberto will not be available for this tie, given that he will be serving a suspension this week. Lucas Digne and Rafinha and also doubtful for this tie with injury problems, while defenders Jeremy Mathieu and Alex Vidal are expected to miss out once again due to injury.
Roberto’s suspension means Enrique has no options of right-back. As a result, we will likely see him revert to the 3-man defence he had so much success a few months ago. While Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique could deployed there as makeshift right-backs, a return to the 3-4-3 seems more likely.
Ter Stegen will likely retain his place in goal, while Javier Mascherano would return to the starting XI and set up shop alongside Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti as a part of Barcelona’s 3 man defence. Jordi Alba would likely play as the left wing back in this formation.
Enrique could also Denis Suarez in the position. As for the right wing back position, Rafinha’s absence would mean that Ivan Rakitic may be pushed to the right flank for this tie, with Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets forming Barcelona’s central midfield pair.
The MSN trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are almost irreplaceable upfront and they will certainly look to add to their 102 goal haul this season with a few more against Los Amarillos on Sunday.
However, Enrique’s propensity for rotating his squad this season could mean that the likes of Paco Alcacer and Arda Turan may also get a look in.
Predicted Starting XI(3-4-3): Ter Stegen; Umtiti, Mascherano, Pique; Alba, Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitic; Neymar, Suarez, Messi
- UD Las Palmas have not beaten Barcelona in a Spanish first division game since February 1986.
- Since their 2-0 loss at the hands of Malaga in April, Barcelona have won 5 consecutive La Liga games and scored 20 goals over the course of that time.
- UD Las Palmas have kept just 2 clean sheets over the course of their last 20 La Liga matches.
- Barcelona’s Lionel Messi became the first player in Europe’s top 5 Leagues this season to reach 50 goals, last week.
- UD Las Palmas’ top scorer this season is Kevin Prince Boateng, who has scored 10 goals.
- Barcelona’s Luis Suarez is 1 goal away from his 120th goal for the club in all competitions.
UD Las Palmas 0-4 FC Barcelona
Having secured their top flight status for another season, La Palmas don’t have as much to play for as their visitors, who are fighting to keep the title race alive. If Barcelona were to lose or draw on Sunday, it would put them in a dangerous position in the title race.
So given what this match means for the Blaugrana, they certainly won’t be looking to take any prisoners at the Gran Canaria and we could be in for yet another comprehensive thrashing. However, the lack of pressure on the hosts could also be seen as an advantage for them.
Luis Enrique will be wary that if hise side were to drop points and should Real Madrid defeat Sevilla on Sunday, it would take a small miracle for them to keep a hold of their title. Los Blancos already have a game in hand, and if Barcelona are to hold on to their title for another week, nothing but all 3 points will do.