Barcelona will look to extend their advantage at the top of La Liga when they visit relegation-threatened Las Palmas in Thursday’s league clash at the Estadio de Gran Canaria.
Date: 1 March 2018
Match Day 26
Kick-off: 21H00 (local time)
Venue: Estadio de Gran Canaria
Referee: Antonio Mateu
Assistants: Pau Cebrian, Roberto Diaz
Fourth official: Daniel Yuste
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Las Palmas 9 0 2 7
Barcelona 9 9 2 7
Barcelona 3-0 Las Palmas 1/10/17 (La Liga)
Barca scorers: S. Busquets (49′), L. Messi (70′) (77′)
Players to watch:
After his hat-trick in the 6-1 demolition of Girona last Saturday, Luis Suarez has taken his tally to 20 goals in the race for the Pichichi Trophy. He currently is just two goals behind teammate Lionel Messi and could fancy his chances against a side that have conceded 52 goals in the 2017/2018 campaign.
Las Palmas have scored just 18 times this season with Argentine forward Jonathan Calleri scoring six of those strikes in the league. Given the struggles of the outfit from the Canary Islands, the 24 year old’s return of nine goals in all competitions has been impressive. Though his chances are sure to be few and far between, Calleri could be one to watch out for on Thursday.
Team form and manager quotes:
Las Palmas are in the relegation zone in 18th place but have picked up two wins, two draws and two losses in their last six La Liga matches.
While the club have the worst goal difference in the division, manager Paco Jemez remains optimistic of avoiding the drop.
Ahead of the clash with a Barca side he has never beaten in his career, Jemez paid his respects, saying: “I always like Barca. It never disappoints me.
“And you’re going to apologize, but whoever says that he gets bored watching Barca has other hidden interests out there. It’s a team that has had a series of changes, but always plays the same way. I never get bored watching Barca.”
Meanwhile, the away outfit are still unbeaten in the Spanish top flight boasting a record of 20 wins and five draws in 25 league matches.
Nonetheless, while his charges are firm favourites to beat Las Palmas, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde is taking nothing for granted and believes Lionel Messi could once again make the difference.
The 54-year-old said: “It’s hard to get used to these things, when a player seems to have been everything, he goes and surprises you.
“We were waiting to see how he passed the standards (he set) and it turns out that he has surpassed it, when you see him, you think, ‘ah, sure’ Leo makes it easy, but it’s not that easy.”
For the hosts, Gabriel Penalba is out with a knee problem while defender Pedro Bigas and striker Emmanuel Emenike are also unavailable with injuries.
For Barca, Nelson Semedo is out for up to five weeks with a hamstring concern while Sergi Samper is a long term casualty. Meanwhile, Jordi Alba picked up his fifth league yellow card of the campaign against Girona and is suspended.