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3 Points To Ponder: Why Barcelona beat Las Palmas


Coming off the 4-1 shellacking to Celta de Vigo, Barcelona were having questions asked of them. With everyone available for the first time in weeks, Luis Enrique had a decision to make. He could go with squad rotation again against a side in Las Palmas that like Levante last week, is expected to finish in the bottom-half of the La Liga table, or he could try to make a statement.

Las Palmas made their return to the Camp Nou for the first time in thirteen years, the last time they were in the top division in Spain. On that day in 2002, it was none other than Luis Enrique that scored in a 1-1 draw, and he would need to channel that goal and maybe a few more into his current squad to not only get the result, but to try to send the message that everything is still roses in Catalonia.

Similar to Celta de Vigo with Sergio Gomez and Nolito, Las Palmas also boasted a former Barcelona player, with Sergio Araujo leading the line and having scored seven goals with Barca B back in 2012/13.

Not to bury the lead, but Lionel Messi going down in the 10th minute with an injury to his MCL that will sideline him for the next seven to eight weeks is the first, second and third takeaway from this match. The loss of the talisman will be spoken about and analyzed for the forthcoming weeks, so for now, the focus will simply be on the match.

Here are three talking points from Barcelona's win over Las Palmas:


1. Suarez to the rescue

With Messi sidelined after gaining a free kick, Luis Suarez and Neymar immediately became the focal points of the attack. Though for the remaining 80 minutes, it appeared that Suarez could be the one to step into the role of first option and Neymar will do his part to play off him like he often does with the Argentine. 

Barcelona’s passing wasn’t at its usual supreme level, but Suarez was clearly the man for whom a multitude of forward passes were intended. The Uruguayan had three shots, two of which resulted in goals. The first was a difficult header against two defenders on a cross and the second was a one-man show. One thing is certain, Suarez was the man at Liverpool, and while Neymar and the midfield do take some of the pressure off him, Suarez is the man in the attack once more.

2. Youngsters up to snuff

Munir and Sergi Roberto both had quite possibly their best appearances of the season. While Suarez still had much to do on the header, Munir’s backheel to free up Sergi Roberto, again deputizing at right-back for Dani Alves, was a sign of confidence that the young forward hasn’t shown much of this season. 

Sergi Roberto did his part, taking the ball on the right wing and pinpointing the head of Suarez. A run in the second half where he cut in from out wide to create space for Munir showed a willingness to take chances that the midfielder turned defender doesn’t always display when he is trying to control the center of the field. 

Munir’s performance wasn’t perfect by any means, and he was himself substituted for Sandro late in the contest. Yet if Munir were able to polish some of the decision-making outside the box and turn the opportunities his speed creates into accurate crosses or shots on net, the 20-year-old could help alleviate a fraction of the newfound pressure on Suarez and Neymar.

3. Regulars struggle

Once again, Cules were left feeling that Ter Stegen could have done more on the Las Palmas’ goal scored late by Jonathan Viera that brought the match back into question. It’s calming to know that Claudio Bravo will return soon to potentially right the ship in La Liga so the young German can focus solely on the Champions League, but ter Stegen still seems out of sorts.

The goalkeeper wasn’t the only regular at fault however on the goal, as it was an unlikely giveaway by Javier Mascherano that opened things up for the Canaries. Mascherano and Sergio Busquets got the start in midfield together, and whether it was tired legs or a lack of continuity, neither player looked like themselves in their passing.

The work-rate and tackling was present, but the lack of Andres Iniesta looked apparent when connecting the ball between the defense and attack.


By Dan Hilton, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @HiltonD13

Comments

  1. Seriously, you are going to blame Stegen for the goal? That ball took a deflection off Pique. No way Stegen was going to stop that. Had it not taken a deflection, he was positioned perfectly to stop it. Now what do you expect him to do, estimate the deflections the ball will take before it reaches him so that he could stop it?! The goal was all Masch's fault, 100% his fault. And the actual reason we won against Las Palmas is because they are Las Palmas. This performance against Vigo/Atletico/RM/Sevilla etc would have been a hammering because we were bad. Our defending was bad again, no improvements over last match with the only exception being Roberto, he was brilliant and in my opinion should continue at RB with Dani being shifted to midfield/wing now that we don't have Messi as well. Ney was bad with his finishing, missed couple of chances and then the penalty as well. Munir was good, far better than his last 2 games. He needs to improve upon his decision making inside the box and also take more risks with the ball.

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    1. Anonymous27.9.15

      Agree with you, it definitely was the fault of Macherano. Also, we need to give more confidence to Marc Bartra. I feel that he does well and then gets benched and Jeremy Mathieu is given the chance. Mathieu looks very week especially when going forward with the ball and should be benched. Bartra is the future and should be given the confidence. Pique and Bartra should be the CB choice with Dani / Sergi and Jordi / Adriano, in the midfield, we should have rakitic, Iniesta and Busquests and the obvious forwards, Neymar, Suarez and Munir.

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    2. You have a point about Ter Stegen not being at fault for the goal and maybe it was too quick a response to the number of goal he has conceded between this year and last year. He is obviously trusted by Barcelona management and will continue to be groomed as the next great Barcelona keeper, and with good reason. To your other point I would say that every team has down performances (Sevilla is at the bottom of the table currently), and while a more dominating performance should be expected with such a talent disparity, Barcelona still got the job done against the opponent they were facing after losing their top player ten minutes into the match. Absolutely things to work on, but three points nonetheless.

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  2. True barca fans will concur with me that STegen is not Good for barca our formal Goalkeeper Valdes is better than him

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  3. Hillary27.9.15

    I can feel deep pain in my heart especially when i see media houses reporting that loss in a very sarcastic way. Again seeing madrid ahead of us in the table gives me nightmares. Cant Wait see us back to winning ways

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  4. Munish27.9.15

    very unlucky yellow jersy whenever team wore every time they lost so please change it....quickly

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  5. Rafael27.9.15

    Concentrate in winning Clubs World Cup ! La Liga We will come back im sure We will and become two time in a row UCL Champions. Our 6th UCL!!

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  6. DRAGO27.9.15

    The 7-8 weeks they are saying is nowhere near as bad as it could have been. That includes two international breaks which lessens the impact. Hopefully, the enforced rest will result in a stonger Messi at the business end of the season. In the meantime, it is up to players like Neymar and Suarez to carry the load and ensure his absence does not hurt us too much.

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    Replies
    1. One would expect players of the calibre of Suarez and Neymar to step their game up and deliver the sort of performance their incredibly expensive price-tags deserve.

      Based on their game against Las Palmas, it looks like both attacking stars are taking the hint. Although nobody knows how long it will last for, there is no other option but to remain optimistic.

      The upcoming tough games against Sevilla, Villarreal and Leverkusen will be a real test.

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