Barça face newly-promoted Las Palmas at Camp Nou tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 4 pm) with the need to recover after the shock 4-1 defeat at Celta. Individual defensive errors and a lack of intensity have been blamed as the pricipal causes for the disaster in Vigo which has seen Barça drop to fifth in the table, a point behind leaders Real Madrid, Celta and Villarreal.
Jordi Alba and Sandro both trained today and should both be available to play though Luis Enrique is still without the injured Claudio Bravo, Douglas, Thomas Vermaelen and Rafinha. Despite the absenses, the Barça coach seems likely to make more rotations in order to reserve some fresh legs for the coming Champions League game with Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday. Rakitic will return in midfield while Adriano and Marc Bartra could both get another start in defence. The most difficult decision is whether to rest any of the front three though it would seem most sensible to start with Messi, Suárez and Neymar and use substitutions to give them a break in games when Barça are winning comfortably.
Las Palmas return to the Primera División this season after an absense of thirteen years. On their last league visit to Camp Nou in March 2002 they produced an upset against Charly Rexach’s team by taking a 1-1 draw that more or less ended any Barça hopes of winning La Liga that year. Luis Enrique was in the Barça line-up that day and he opened the scoring after 19 minutes only for Orlando to equalize for Las Palmas early in the second half.
This season under coach Paco Herrera, the main ambition of Las Palmas will be to survive relegation and they have got off to a pretty good start, taking five points from five games. They have proved to be a difficult opponent in their two away games so far, losing narrowly at Atlético Madrid (1-0) and drawing 3-3 at Celta. Their first league victory came on Wednesday night when they earned a 2-0 win over Unai Emery’s Sevilla. There are two familiar faces in the Las Palmas squad: ex-Sevilla keeper Javi Varas who stopped a last-minute Messi penalty to earn a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou in October 2011, and ex-Barça B Argentinian striker Sergio Araujo who was Las Palmas’s top scorer in last season’s promotion campaign with 25 goals.
Barça: Ter Stegen; Adriano, Bartra, Piqué, Alba; Rakitic, Mascherano, Sergi Roberto; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.
Las Palmas: Varas; Simon, Alvcaraz, Artiles, Bigas, Castellano; Roque, Hernán, Wakaso; Viera, Araujo.
Prediction: Barça 3 Las Palmas 1
Date: Saturday 26 September 2015. kick-off 4 pm local time.