FC Barcelona will look to apply some pressure on Real Madrid at the top of the Liga Santander table when they entertain an attractive Las Palmas side on Saturday afternoon.
Barca are currently five points behind the league leaders, who also have a game in hand over them and following last weekend’s 1-1 draw away to Villarreal, Barca coach, Luis Enrique commented that the destiny of the league title was not in their hands and that Madrid would have to slip up in order for them to have a chance.
However, with Madrid away to second-placed Sevilla on Sunday night, Barca will be looking for the league leaders to do just that and they will also be aware that if Madrid win in the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium it would at least allow them to leapfrog Sevilla back into second place in the table.
Barcelona had a tough King’s Cup tie on Wednesday, eventually qualifying against Athletic Club Bilbao in a game where the final result hung in the balance until the final whistle.
Enrique played arguably his strongest side in midweek and could be expected to make changes against a Las Palmas side which plays attractive football and has a midfield maestro of their own in Roque Mesa.
Ter Stegan will return in goal and Javier Mascherano and Lucas Digne could also come into the defense, while Ivan Rakitic and Denis Suarez have options of starting alongside Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta in midfield.
Barcelona have not been at their best since the turn of the year, but one player has kept them afloat with Lionel Messi netting three direct free kicks in the last three matches. Not only have those goals saved Barca from defeat in Villarreal and put them in the quarter-finals of the Cup, but they also saw the Argentinean beat Ronaldo Koeman’s record of 25 goals from set pieces for the club.
One thing that is certain for Barca and that is that Messi’s place in the side is not in doubt.
(INPUTS FROM XINHUA NEWS AGENCY)