Barcelona will be looking to continue their perfect start to the season when they host Las Palmas at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Club football is set to take a break once again for the next two weeks when the latest set of international fixtures will be played. In La Liga, Barcelona are aiming to enter the international break with their perfect record intact, when they play hosts to Las Palmas at Camp Nou on Sunday.
The Bluagrana have won each of their first eight games in all competitions so far this season, looking in ominous form for the large part. Their most recent outing though, saw them battle hard to beat Sporting Lisbon 1-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The visitors, on the other hand, have not started their 2017-18 league campaign well as they sit 16th in the table, with just two wins from their first six games. Earlier this week Manolo Marquez resigned from the managerial post as well, and the Canary Islanders have appointed Pako Ayestaran in his stead.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in an emphatic 5-0 win for Barcelona with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi being the architects of the result. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Ernesto Valverde does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visits of Las Palmas on Sunday. Therefore, Ousmane Dembele and Gerard Deulofeu continue to remain the two long-term absentees in the Barcelona manager’s first-team setup, who otherwise has a full strength squad.
Dembele has undergone corrective surgery on the thigh injury he picked up against Getafe earlier this month is reportedly sidelined for the next four months. Rafinha, on the other hand, is on the return trail as he continues his rehabilitation from a knee injury that has kept him out of action since April.
Meanwhile, Gerard Deulofeu missed the midweek game against Sporting due to an unspecified problem, and the Spanish winger is doubtful for Sunday as well. In his absence, the likes of Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal are in contention to start on the right wing.
Also, Valverde is expected to rest some players after what has been a busy September for his side. Thus, the likes of Samuel Umtiti, Ivan Rakitic and captain Andres Iniesta could either start on the bench or omitted from the matchday squad altogether.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Vidal, Paulinho, Busquets, Denis Suarez; Messi, Luis Suarez
Pako Ayestaran seems to have an unenviable task ahead of his first game in charge of Las Palmas. Not only do the Canary Islands outfit seem to be in a rut with regards to their form, but there are several roster issues plaguing the side as well.
In fact, the Las Palmas boss could be without the services of as many as seven first-team players ahead of the visit to Camp Nou on Sunday. Loic Remy (muscle injury), Alfredo Ortuno (ankle) and Pedro Bigas (knee) are major doubts and are unlikely to feature.
Vitolo and Dani Castellano will miss the match due to their respective thigh injuries that will keep them out for a few more weeks. The onus, meanwhile, will be on the likes of Ximo Navarro, Mauricio Lemos and Michel Macedo to negate the threat of Messi and Luis Suarez to earn their side a shock result.
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Chichizola; Macedo, Navarro, Lemos, Herrera; Aquilani, Castellano; Tana, Viera, Tannane; Calleri
- Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 12 league meetings with Las Palmas, their best run against the Canary Islands outfit (W8 D4).
- The Blaugrana are on a 15-game winning run at home, and have scored at least two goals in each of those matches.
- Luis Suarez has scored in each of his four league games against Las Palmas (six goals in all).
- Las Palmas are on a dreadful run of form on the road, having lost nine of their last ten away games. Five of the last six defeats have seen them fail to find the back of the net.
- Loic Remy will be a major miss if he fails to regain match fitness by Sunday, having scored two goals in first two games for Las Palmas.
Player To Watch
There’s a resurgent mood around everything at Barcelona at the present moment. While the first team seems to have moved on from the Neymar saga with aplomb, as their position in the La Liga table so clearly shows, some players have belied the doubts of skeptics as well. One such player is Aleix Vidal.
A peripheral figure in Luis Enrique’s final season at Camp Nou, the Spaniard has found his way back into the first-team plans at the club following Ernesto Valverde’s appointment. The long-term absence of Ousmane Dembele has left a slot open in the side is no secret, with Gerard Deulofeu grabbing his chances well.
But, the former Everton man is not an indispensable figure just yet, giving Vidal an equal opportunity to stake claim for more regular inclusion. On Sunday, should he get another chance to start on the right wing, a solid performance could go a long way in boosting those chances.
Barcelona 3-0 Las Palmas
Sunday’s afternoon kick-off in La Liga pits two side that are at the opposite ends of the spectrum with respect to their form. Things are unlikely to get any easier for Pako Ayestaran, who is already battling a spate of injury problems in his first match at the helm at Las Palmas.
Lionel Messi is in rampaging form at the present moment, and with the Las Palmas defence looking highly susceptible, it is going to be a long ninety minutes for the travelling side and their supporters. The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable 3-0 win for Ernesto Valverde’s men.