FC Barcelona vs UD Las Palmas: Match preview

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 31: Robert Lewandowski of FC Barcelona looks on during the team warm up prior to the LaLiga EA Sports match between FC Barcelona and CA Osasuna at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on January 31, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

As we head into the final couple of months of the Spanish Season, FC Barcelona have their task cut out if they are to prevent Real Madrid from capturing their 36th La Liga crown. With no margin for error, Xavi Hernandez enters into his final chapter as a Barcelona coach unless he reverts his decision.

No team let alone the record champions has ever spurned such a huge gap with less than 10 games of the season left to play with. Real Madrid are on course to recapture La Liga but Barcelona in recent weeks have shown immense grit and courage and are not ready to go down without a fight.

Barcelona have been on an upward spiral ever since their 5-3 loss to Villareal at home which propelled manager and club legend Xavi Hernandez to announce his decision to leave the club at the end of the season.

They have remained unbeaten in their last 10 games in all competitions and the manner of some of those victories is what has instilled a rejuvenated sense of hope in Culers around the world.

The last week before the international break was supposed to be a season-defining one for Barcelona and Xavi’s men passed all their tests with flying colors, playing with a sense of purpose and determination. The slender 1-0 victory against Mallorca courtesy of a magical strike from Lamine Yamal was followed by 2 gigantic results and performances against Napoli and Atletico.

Barca’s previous game at Atletico and their approach in the 2nd half despite being a goal to the good is what was perhaps the most satisfying part of the season thus far and reassured the Blaugrana faithful that the team does have it in them to compete among the European elites.

Atletico were coming on the back of a humongous victory over favorites Inter Milan in their UCL RO16 tie but Simeone’s men were no match in front of their Catalan counterparts who scored 3 unanswered goals and ran the show with breathtaking mesmerizing football at times.

Xavi’s red card was the only chink in the armor and the tactician will have to spend the next 2 league games in the stands after being somewhat harshly suspended for two matchdays.

Xavi’s troops dropped points in only one of their last 5 La Liga games which was a stalemate vs Athletic Bilbao. Barcelona lost Frenkie De Jong and Pedri to injuries in that game but Fermin, Roberto, and co have ensured Xavi and Barcelona haven’t felt the absence of their preferred midfield duo.

UD Las Palmas come into this fixture having lost their last 2 games and are winless in their last 5 matches. Manager García Pimienta managed Barcelona B from 2018-21 and knows a thing or two about the club. Las Palmas is placed 11th on the points table and have all but ensured a place in next season’s La Liga being 15 points above the relegation pack.

The return encounter in the Canary Islands was a close affair with Barcelona putting up a lackluster performance, unable to shake away their post-holiday rust. Las Palmas deserved to have emerged from that encounter with a positive result but the home fans were left heartbroken after a late Sinkgraven red card resulted in a stoppage-time winning penalty scored by Gundogan.

Pimienta would be hoping for a similar performance from his side to make life difficult for the Catalans. Xavi’s men know that their fate in the league is not in their hands but they need to do the needful by winning their games to ensure they are in a position to take advantage of any possible Madrid slip-up.

The game vs Las Palmas will be followed by 10 days of training and rest before Barca travel to the Parc Des Princes for a mammoth Champions League Quarter Final Clash vs Paris Saint Germain. The La Liga tie might not seem daunting enough but Barcelona can make a statement victory to go into the PSG clash full of confidence.

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