After 3 months away, what a great game for The Saint to come back to.
Las Palmas are now on their 3rd manager of the season and have a very different looking line up from when they began. Since the new manager Paco Jemez took over, Las Palmas have managed a few good draws plus 2 wins against Valencia and Malaga, which has now moved them up to 3rd from bottom but only 1point behind Levante who sit above the relegation zone.
The game starts with Barca looking dangerous and Luis Suarez going close on 8mins. Then a min later, the same player again goes close. The home team, in trying to close down the mighty Barca concede a few too many fouls and both Dani Castellano and Aguirregaray go into the book.
First attempt by LP sees Halilovic’s left foot shot go wide, after good work by Tana. Another ½ chance for the home team when a shot from Aguirregaray again goes wide.
On 21min, the home side struggle to hold back the world’s best player, Messi, who wins a free kick in a dangerous position, just outside the box. Messi himself takes the free kick and plants the ball into the top corner. Another amazing strike by the little man. 1-0 Barca.
The home team are playing with confidence and not letting the visitors over run them, once again Halilovic goes close. Las Palmas are playing direct and the long ball over the top is working, putting the visitors under pressure. The big centre midfielder, Etebo, looks a very good signing and is causing Barca some problems.
In the last min of the 1st half, Las Palmas get away with handball. The ball is played over the top, the home keeper comes rushing out and handles the ball just outside the box but the referee blows for half time and waves away the protests from the away team.
Half Time – Las Palmas 0 Barca 1
The HT Verdict – The difference between these teams is the brilliance of Messi.
LP had a few ½ chances and they look a lot fitter and quicker compared to the team I left in the end of November. They are moving the ball quicker forward and not too many sideways/ backward passes which is good to see. Let’s see if we can hold Barca to account in the 2nd half and somehow get the equaliser for an sought after draw.
LP get off to a very lively start hitting the post from a header, by Aguirregaray, from a corner. Then a min later, from another corner, Digne for Barca handles the ball and the ref awards a penalty to the home team. Jonathan Calleri converts, kicking into the top right hand corner. A perfect start for the home team. 1-1.
Barca hit back and Suarez goes close and again Messi is causing the home defence problems with his quick breaks.
On 57mins, another world class player ex-of-Liverpool, Coutinho, comes on for Barca. Within the space of a few mins, Suarez again goes close. LP are holding them but they have started to look very tired.
Then on 82mins, a great chance for the home team, Tana is played in, goes into the box but looks in two minds whether to shoot or pass the ball, he decides to pass sideways but the ball is cleared away. That was a great chance to snatch a winner there. Las Palmas are holding them but there is 6mins of injury time to play out. However some great defending, along with some poor finishing by Barca, help LP hold on to an amazing draw.
Full Time _ Las Palmas 1 Barca 1
The team gave their all to gain a much deserved draw. They were very tired in the closing mins but managed to play well as a team and hold back one of the best teams in the world. This should surely give them confidence and belief in their ability to get out of the relegation zone as now they are only their by goal difference. The new players look fit and strong and they play as a team. The new manager has worked wonders with them in such a small space of time. If they keep playing this way, I believe that they can escape the dreaded drop.
The only disappointing thing on the night was again the crowd. Just 23,778 when the ground should have been full. Lots of tourists made up the numbers as again at 90€, the cheapest tickets, the club have priced out the local fans. It’s such a shame, if the club just lowered the prices, even just for locals then the stadium would be full and create a great atmosphere to cheer on the boys.
This club needs to stop being greedy and think about the players on the pitch and the importance of staying up and a full stadium, creating a great atmosphere, where the away teams will dread visiting.
Next home game = Sunday 11th March – Villarreal , KO 17.30