Afternoon all! Sports Mole's live La Liga coverage continues from Camp Nou as Barcelona welcome Las Palmas. One of these teams recorded a comfortable win during the week and the other was heavily beaten. Miss what happened? It was Las Palmas that beat Sevilla 2-0 at home, while Barcelona were soundly beaten 4-1 at Celta Vigo. It is imperative that Luis Enrique's side return to winning ways here.
To be blunt, the omens are not exactly great for Las Palmas. Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 16 home league games with Las Palmas, winning 14 times in the process. That said, the points were shared in a 1-1 draw the last time that the pair met in this stadium (March 2002). The Yellows have also scored on each of their last three trips to Camp Nou, but lost two of those three games.
It all seemed to be going very well for Barcelona as they racked up four straight wins at the start of the new La Liga season, but they were seriously brought down to earth last Wednesday. Celta Vigo have also had an impressive start to the campaign, but not many would have predicted Eduardo Berizzo's side to record a 4-1 win, and it could well have been even more comfortable!
Indeed, Barcelona conceded four goals in the league last time out for the first time since October 2012, when they beat Deportivo La Coruna 5-4. It is not exactly a common occurrence for the Catalan side and Luis Enrique will be demanding a response here, that is for sure. The defeat dropped Barcelona to fifth position in the table, but they are just one point off the leaders Real Madrid.
Sevilla, who are currently bottom, have been perhaps the surprise story of the season thus far, with Unai Emery's side seriously struggling. However, Celta and Villarreal have made excellent starts and currently sit in the top four alongside Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. On the face of it, defeat for Barcelona last time out was far from disastrous at this stage of the season, but it would have been a real wake-up for those players that had become complacent. Still no sign of the team news here...
... we have some team news! Very interesting from the Barcelona side as Enrique makes a whole host of changes. Three of the back four have been changed, while Ivan Rakitic returns to the middle of the park. There is no change in attack, however, with Lionel Messi
and Luis Suarez
Still waiting on Las Palmas, but here is the Barcelona team...
BARCA: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Bartra, Adriano; Busquets, Mascherano, Rakitic; Neymar, Suarez, Messi
So there we have it. No Dani Alves or Jeremy Mathieu in the Barcelona defence this afternoon, while Jordi Alba is still out injured. Marc Bartra, Sergi Roberto
and Adriano join Gerard Pique at the back, while Javier Mascherano has moved into a midfield role alongside Sergio Busquets and Rakitic.
It is a big couple of weeks for Barcelona, who return to Champions League action at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday. They will then travel to Sevilla next weekend, before hosting Rayo Vallecano after the international break. November is also shaping up to be an interesting month, with the first Clasico of the season set for the weekend of the 22nd. Still no team news from Las Palmas here!
Four wins from five league games is a fairly solid start whatever happened last time out, but with just nine goals scored in five games, this is Barcelona's worst goalscoring start to a season since the 2010-11 campaign. What's more, the Catalan outfit are yet to score a single first-half league goal this season, which is quite extraordinary considering the way that they immediately take control of 95% of matches.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar scored a combined 122 goals last season and I should not think that they will be too far off that once again. Thus far this season, Messi and Neymar have both scored three times in the league, but Suarez has only netted once in four games. No first-team midfielder has scored in La Liga this season, however, which might be a concern to Enrique.
BARCA: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Bartra, Adriano; Busquets, Mascherano, Rakitic; Neymar, Suarez, Messi
LAS PALMAS: Varas; Simon, Alcaraz, Aythami, Bigas, D Castellano; Mesa, Hernan, Mubarak; Aruajo, Viera
So there we have it. Las Palmas finally release their team news for us! It appears that the visitors will line up in a back five this afternoon, with Antolin Alcaraz joining Pedro Bigas and the skipper Aythami. Sergio Aruajo, who was excellent against Sevilla last time out, will lead the line here.
Las Palmas recorded their first La Liga win of the season on Wednesday, with Sevilla going down 2-0 to the newly-promoted side. Paco Herrera's side opened the new campaign with a narrow 1-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid, before drawing their first home game 0-0 against Levante. An impressive 3-3 draw at Celta then followed, but they lost 1-0 at home to Rayo Vallecano on September 20.
Goals from Roque Mesa and Antolin Alcaraz secured all the points against Sevilla on Wednesday, however, as the Yellows moved onto five points and indeed into 12th position in the table. Sergio Araujo got both assists against Sevilla and there is no question that the Argentine, who scored 25 goals last season, will be key to their chances of staying in the division. Kickoff is fast approaching here!
It is not all good news for Las Palmas, however, who are without a win in 12 away games in Spain's top flight, losing seven times in the process. Their last victory came in the Canary Islands derby against Tenerife in December 2001 and in truth, it is a big ask for Herrera's side to return to winning ways on their travels in this particular match. It is a very warm afternoon in Barcelona today!
Las Palmas are playing La Liga football for the first time since the 2001-02 season, when they were relegated in 18th position. Since then, they have spent 11 seasons in the Segunda and two in the Segunda B. They barely stayed in the Segunda from 2006 to 2011, but have gradually improved. Last season, they finished fourth in Spain's second league and were promoted by overcoming both Real Valladolid and Real Zaragoza in the playoffs. Kickoff is little under 10 minutes away at the Camp Nou.
DID YOU KNOW? Las Palmas are actually the only team in the history of Spanish football to have achieved back-to-back promotions to La Liga in their first two seasons. Back in 1949-50, they started in the Tercera Division, before rising to the Segunda and then ultimately La Liga for the 1951-52 season, where they finished 15th.
PREDICTION! This might be the worst time to play Barcelona, who are wounded following their heavy defeat against Celta. Las Palmas play good football and have plenty of quality in the final third, but I am struggling to see the visitors taking anything from this game. Barcelona 3-0 Las Palmas for me.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period at Camp Nou. There is a general expectancy from the home supporters here. Barcelona cannot afford another slip-up!
KICKOFF! Can Las Palmas inflict more misery on Barcelona? It is a big ask for the visitors, that is for sure. It is the hosts that get the first 45 minutes underway - let's hope for an entertaining game...
... as expected, Barcelona have taken control of the possession in the early moments. Las Palmas have indeed lined up with a five-man defence, which is not much of a surprise. You just get the feeling that the visitors will need to survive the opening 10, 15 minutes here if they are to secure a good result.
Adriano breaks down the left for the home side before delivering a cross towards Suarez, but it is good defending from Alcaraz, who manages to clear. Mascherano has started in the middle of the park for Barcelona, with Roberto, as expected, at right-back. Dani Alves surprisingly on the bench.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Messi to send Barcelona ahead after the Argentine danced into the Las Palmas box, but his effort was brilliantly blocked by the diving Varas.
BARCELONA SUB! Barcelona are forced into a change here as Messi, who picked up a knock earlier in the game, is replaced by Munir El-Haddadi. Excuse the lack of updates over the last few minutes - we are having some technical problems that will hopefully be resolved as soon as possible...
Half-chance for the home side as Suarez feeds a low pass into Neymar, but his low strike was always moving wide of the post. As expected, Barcelona are very much in control of the possession here.
Losing Messi is a big blow for the home side, but they still have more than enough quality in the final third to collect all three points here. Las Palmas attempt to break with Viera after another move breaks down, but Busquets is on hand to close the door. Still goalless with 14 minutes played.
Las Palmas will be pretty pleased with their start to this match - Messi came close early on, but clear chances have been very much at a premium. Suarez again finds space inside the opposing box, but Bigas is on the scene to make a strong challenge. We have not seen too much from Munir since he entered.
The home side remain in control of the possession here and manage to work the ball into the Las Palmas box, but Munir is quickly challenged by Alcaraz, who has been busy for the visitors thus far.
Half-chance for Barcelona as Neymar drives down the left before finding Busquets, who rolls a pass towards Munir, but it just takes the Spaniard too wide and Las Palmas manage to survive once again. The home side are in control of the possession here, but Las Palmas are comfortable as it stands.
Las Palmas' first half-chance falls to Mesa, but his low attempt is straight at the Barcelona stopper.
Not an awful lot to report in terms of chances at the moment, but it is Barcelona that continue to dominate possession of the ball. Rakitic goes down inside the Las Palmas box under a strong challenge from Castellano, but the referee is not interested. Still goalless as things stand in Barcelona.
GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Las Palmas (Suarez)
Breakthrough Barcelona! The home side take the lead in the 25th minute as Roberto breaks down the right before delivering a super cross onto the head of Suarez, who angles his effort past Varas.
Roberto has started ahead of Dani Alves at right-back and the Spaniard's cross towards Suarez was just brilliant. It is just vital that Las Palmas do not concede another at this stage of the contest.
Just a reminder that three points this afternoon would move Barcelona back to the top of the table, but Real Madrid would reclaim the position with victory over Malaga in the 5.15pm kickoff. Be sure to stay with us for coverage from the Bernabeu as Malaga look to score their first goal of the season!
Suarez is down holding his shoulder for Barcelona - not another injury for the hosts surely...
... the striker does not look comfortable as he stays on the deck, but it does appear that he will be fit to continue, for the moment anyway. No news on the severity of the Messi injury from the Barca camp.
Munir clashes with Aythami inside the Las Palmas box, but the decision goes the way of the away side, who are just struggling at the back with little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining.
CHANCE! Incredible chance for the home side to score a second as Suarez races down the left before delivering an inch-perfect cross into Neymar, but somehow the Brazilian fires wide of the post!
Little under 10 minutes of the first period remaining and Las Palmas are not really offering anything in the final third at the moment. Barcelona still lead 1-0 here courtesy of that Suarez header.
SAVE! Las Palmas' best chance of the first period falls to Viera as the Spaniard strikes a powerful effort from outside the Barcelona box, but Ter Stegen is on hand to make a very smart save!
BOOKING! Hernan (Las Palmas) is booked for a poor challenge on Busquets.
Las Palmas have another opportunity on the counter, but it ends with a whimper as Viera can only curl a tame shot into the arms of Ter Stegen. Much, much better from the visitors at the moment.
Little under five minutes until the end of the first period and Las Palmas are currently enjoying their best spell of the match. Ter Stegen has twice been called into action to deny Viera, while Aruajo is also seeing more of the ball in the final third. No sign of a second for Barcelona at the moment.
CLOSE! Wakaso curls one over the crossbar as the visitors again threaten with a quick counter attack. Barcelona do not look comfortable at the back here, that is for certain. Great game!
Possession football from Barcelona in the last couple of minutes, which is just what they needed during a period where Las Palmas were threatening an equaliser. Suarez's goal still the difference.
Rakitic angles a long-range strike wide of the post as we approach the interval here.
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional two minutes.
Mascherano is down in a heap at the moment following a strong challenge from Wakaso.
HALF-TIME: Barcelona 1-0 Las Palmas
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Barcelona leading Las Palmas 1-0 courtesy of a Suarez header in the 25th minute. The hosts lost Messi to an injury early on, however, and have also had to repel some pressure from Las Palmas, who have been a threat on the counter here.
STATISTICS! Barcelona have dominated the possession with 70% of the ball, while they have had five attempts, but just one of those - the goal - was on target. As for Las Palmas, they have also hit the target once, but from two attempts. Just the one booking, with Hernan (Las Palmas) having his name taken.
BENCH WATCH! As mentioned, Barcelona have already had to make one change, with Munir replacing Messi in the 10th minute. However, the hosts still have the likes of Alves, Iniesta and Sandro on a strong bench. As for Las Palmas, El Zhar, Culio, Valeron and Willian Jose are all in reserve for Herrera.
Here we go then - both sets of players re-join us on the field for the second 45 minutes. Can Las Palmas recover from 1-0 behind? It is the visitors that restart the action in Barcelona...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too surprising at this stage of events. However, I suspect that both managers will already have alterations in mind as things progress.
MESSI LATEST! The Argentine, who went off injured in the 10th minute of this match, is currently undergoing tests on a knee problem. If it is a twist, that will be around three, four weeks out!
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the early stages of the second period, but Las Palmas are very much threatening, with Simon twice delivering excellent crosses from the right. Castellano manages to break down the opposite side moments later, but his cross is claimed by Ter Stegen.
It must be said that this has been another very average performance from Barcelona, but there is still time for the Catalan side to put some more goals on the board. Las Palmas, however, continue to threaten with the likes of Araujo and Viera both causing problems with their pace and movement.
GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Las Palmas (Suarez)
Barcelona score their second of the match as Munir drives down the right before feeding a low pass into Suarez, who finishes into the top corner. Second for the home side and second for Suarez here.
In truth, it is very difficult to see Las Palmas getting back into the match at this stage. The visitors have played well for long spells of this fixture, but seem to be heading for defeat at Camp Nou.
BOOKING! Simon (Las Palmas) is booked for a late challenge on Munir.
LAS PALMAS SUB! Culio replaces Hernan for the visitors.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the visitors to cut the score to 2-1 as Araujo breaks into the Barcelona box before firing one towards the top corner, but Ter Stegen is on hand to make the save.
BOOKING! Wakaso (Las Palmas) is booked for a late challenge on Busquets.
Roberto continues to impress for the home side as he drives down the right before delivering a low cross, but Simon manages to beat Suarez to the ball. Little over 30 minutes of football remaining.
Just a reminder that as it stands, Barcelona are heading back to the top of the table. However, Real Madrid would reclaim that position with all three points against Malaga this evening. It is a difficult game for Las Palmas at the moment as the home side continue to force the issue in the final third.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of minutes, but Barcelona are still in control of the possession. Neymar has a shot on goal, but it was a comfortable save for Varas.
BOOKING! Alcaraz (Las Palmas) is booked for handball and the referee has pointed to the spot. It might have been a little harsh, but the defender's arm was certainly near the ball!
MISS! Neymar's penalty is over the crossbar! Terrible from the Brazilian!
LAS PALMAS SUBS! El Zhar and Valeron replace Araujo and Mesa for the visitors.
Las Palmas are just holding on a touch at the moment, with Barcelona threatening to extend their lead. Neymar really should have made it 3-0 from the spot, but the Brazilian could only fire into the stands. It has been quite a strange match here, but Barcelona will seemingly secure all the points.
CHANCES! Viera breaks through on the Barcelona goal, but his effort is straight at Ter Stegen. Down the other end, Neymar cannot find the back of the net following a super Busquets pass!
Another half-chance for the home side as Suarez finds space inside the Las Palmas box, but Alcaraz is across to make a fine challenge. Little over 15 minutes of football remaining at Camp Nou here.
CHANCE! Suarez has another opportunity for the home side, but his close-range effort is straight at the goalkeeper. Down the other end, Wakaso tests Ter Stegen with a decent strike from distance.
Viera stands over a free kick outside the Barcelona box, but his effort was always too high.
BARCELONA SUB! Sandro Ramirez replaces Munir for the hosts.
Not too much to report in terms of clear chances in the last couple of minutes, but Barcelona are still committing players forward, with Neymar, who has been poor today, desperate for a goal.
SAVE! Varas gets down to make a very smart save, pushing a Mascherano effort wide.
Suarez curls a free kick over the crossbar as another chance comes and goes for the home side, before Las Palmas push out and have a counter, which Bartra eventually clears. Still 2-0 here.
GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Las Palmas (Viera)
Now then! Las Palmas have one back here as El Zhar feeds a pass into Viera, whose goal-bound effort deflects past Ter Stegen and into the back of the net. Still time for an equaliser in this game!
CHANCE! Incredible chance for Barcelona to make it 3-1 as Sandro finds himself unmarked inside the Las Palmas box, but the attacker's low effort is wide of the post. Incredible!
Viera fires wide of the post as Las Palmas stream forward here.
BARCELONA SUB! Gumbau replaces Adriano for the hosts.
We are into the second of three additional minutes here.
BOOKING! Suarez (Barcelona) is booked for a high boot.
FULL-TIME: Barcelona 2-1 Las Palmas
So there we have it. Far from comfortable for Barcelona, but they have returned to the top of the table with a 2-1 win over Las Palmas, who were excellent for long spells. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action once again. Until next time!