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Three talking points ahead of Barcelona vs Las Palmas



Photo by DESIREE MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images

Two weeks after their thrilling 3-0 demolition of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona return to action on Saturday night against one of La Liga’s most inspiring sides.

Las Palmas sit in 11th place on the standings 29 games into the season. Their coach, Garcia Pimienta, is no stranger to Cruyffian football and has instilled a fair amount of the same ideology into the Canary Islanders’ style.

The result of the same is evident on the field. Las Palmas now boast one of La Liga’s most coherent brands of football and are comfortable in possession, thus setting up for an epic clash against Barcelona.

The last time the two teams faced off in La Liga, Xavi’s side required a late penalty by Ilkay Gundogan to take home three points. Gifted with the home advantage this time around, Barcelona will hope for a statement result.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Barcelona vs Las Palmas.

To rotate or not to rotate?

With international football taking over the last two weeks of the footballing calendar, there has been a clear discrepancy in minutes enjoyed by various players in the squad.

The players called up for international duty have between 90 to 180 additional minutes on their legs, added to the stress of travelling across Europe for two games.

Players who stayed back at Barcelona, however, are unsurprisingly more fresh, rested and ready to take to the field ahead of the clash against Las Palmas.

Xavi Hernandez will thus look to rotate his squad for tomorrow’s clash and balance the minutes of players who have been overworked in recent weeks.

Concurrently, he cannot risk over-rotating as he requires his first-choice team to be in rhythm ahead of the upcoming PSG clash, as he insisted in his press conference.

The manager must thus strike a fine balance in his lineup, and a big part of the result will depend on the same.

Ilkay Gundogan has been severely overworked in recent weeks. However, Xavi confirmed that the German will be involved on the night. Although, it is likely that he is rested for the start of the clash.

Oriol Romeu could thus start alongside Sergi Roberto and Fermin Lopez in midfield.

The scenario in the attack is similar, with Lamine Yamal overburdened and Robert Lewandowski returning with a mild knock.

While the Pole will be involved in some capacity, there is a good chance Vitor Roque starts as the centre-forward with Joao Felix and Raphinha flanking him. Ferran Torres, who is expected to make the squad, is also an option to start.

Riding on positivity

Barcelona thumped Atletico Madrid before the international break. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

The two games before the international break represented Barcelona’s highest point all season.

There has not been much to cheer for from a Blaugrana perspective this campaign, but the games against Napoli and Atletico Madrid instilled fans with hope. Hope that the team can recover its best version and that not everything is lost in various competitions.

La Liga may still be out of the Catalans’ reach, but the UEFA Champions League presents them with a viable route to the finals and a chance at silverware. To reach the semifinal against Atletico Madrid or Borussia Dortmund, however, they must first conquer PSG.

As vital as it was for Xavi’s men to enter the international break on a high, it is equally critical that they restart club football with a similar bang.

A strong performance against Las Palmas could thus lay the foundation for the comeback Barcelona desperately require. A level-headed and confident dressing room with momentum can conjure wonders at Parc des Princes.

Defensive precautions

Xavi’s squad do not have many serious injury threats as club football returns. However, there are multiple players recovering from minor knocks whom Xavi would prefer to rest on the night.

Unfortunately, two such affected players belong in defence. Andreas Christensen withdrew from the Danish squad before the international break owing to a minor injury, and has been definitively ruled out.

Ronald Araujo returned early from the Uruguayan national team this week, and his return ahead of time was celebrated only to unravel that he was suffering from physical discomfort. The defender has recovered and trained normally today, though.

Despite that, with a critical game coming up in the UCL, Xavi could opt to rest him for tomorrow’s game. Inigo Martinez is thus well-placed to start alongside Pau Cubarsi while Oriol Romeu could take over as the team’s pivot.

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