Out of 17 games in La Liga, Luis Enrique’s men had only managed 10 wins. While the Catalans had only had two defeats, they had drawn 5 times this season, which left them in third place behind Sevilla.
A win was necessary if the Blaugrana wanted to challenge for the title, and their immediate adversary, wasn’t going to make things easy. Las Palmas entered this tie, on the back-end of a 3-2 win over Atletico midweek, which was a precursor to the quality of the Yellows.
Could the Canary Islanders dent Barca’s title defence?
The game began with an early booking for Mesa, who brought down Luis Suarez from behind, as the Uruguayan blazed through on the counter.
Both teams wanted to have the ball, but one team was doing a better job of keeping it. Dangerous chances continued to follow, as Andre Gomes looked incisive on the right, getting into good position and creating chances.
The inclusion of Aleix Vidal meant that there was plenty of width on the right, making it the more decisive flank on the night for the Blaugrana.
Barcelona had pinned Las Palmas into their own half within ten minutes of kick-off. The Blaugrana passed and probed, looking to find space in Las Palmas’ six-man back-line.
While the defence of the Yellows had held the fort so far, the way Barca passed the ball around, a goal didn’t seem far off for the Blaugrana.
13 minutes in, Aleix vidal set Andre Gomes free to cross, and the Portuguese didn’t lose sight of Luis Suarez loitering at the penalty spot. While the Uruguayan has had issues in front of goal this season, he didn’t miss this time, as his first-touch strike blazed past the keeper into the back of the net.
Moments later, Rafinha dribbled into the opposition penalty-box, but Luis Suarez’s shot was off-target.
Las Palmas had managed to breach the Catalan defence on a couple of occasions so far, but the Blaugrana looked to be in control, with Lionel Messi on the steering wheel. The Argentine looked to be in inspired form, as he dribbled and dictated the game, with his quality on the ball.
A wonderful move from Turan caused chaos, as the Turk broke into a dribble, leaving a through ball for Luis Suarez. The striker put in a cross for Andre Gomez on the right, but Varas was quick to put his body across.
Thirty minutes in, Javier Mascherano was the second Blaugrana to enter the referee’s book alongside Rafinha, as the duo brought down Viera on counters in quick succession. Gomes would soon follow suit as he fouled Boateng.
Messi continued to dominate the game, with an exhibition in extra-terrestrial dribbling. While Barcelona had played really well so far, there was no doubt as to who was pulling the strings for the Catalans.
Helder Lopes was the fifth person to receive a booking on the night as he brought down Lionel Messi a few yards away from the box. An absolutely ridiculous free-kick followed, as Messi’s dipping strike looked on course for goal, but Varas put in an even better dive to keep his shot from going in.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Messi pressed high and found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but his first touch was a tad bit heavy; Varas managed to deny Lionel Messi once more.
The referee called for half time, with the score-board favoring Barcelona.
The second half began with some pressure from Las Palmas. However, the quality of the Blaugrana was almost impossible to match tonight. There was a constant barrage of chances, and no matter how hard the Yellows tried, there was no doubt in the minds of the 81,000 odd people in the stadium, that another goal was on the cards.
After being denied thrice on the night, Lionel Messi managed to finally get on the score-sheet, as Varas’ save of Rafinha’s strike fell straight to the feet of the little magician.
Within a few minutes of the second, Luis Suarez managed to triple Barca’s lead, as he fired in Rafinha’s cross from close range.
Another goal in quick succession followed, as Luis Suarez and Arda Turan broke free on the counter. Suarez was the first to take a shot, forcing Varas to react quickly to keep the ball from going behind him. However, Turan pounced on the rebound to score his first of the game.
The Catalans continued to break on the counter, and create chances in abundance.
60 minutes in , Rakitic replaced Andre Gomes on the field.
Luis Suarez had had a brilliant game so far, but he would have to settle with a brace, as Paco Alcacer came on, with twenty minutes of play left.
After 70 minutes of aggressive play, the Blaugrana had taken their foot off the gas, and it showed, as they seemed happy to pass the ball around patiently and tire the Yellows.
Luis Enrique subbed in Jeremy Mathieu in for Sergio Busquets, pushing Mascherano further up to take the vacant spot, in the 72nd minute.
79 minutes in, Aleix Vidal capped off an exceptional performance by putting his name on the score-sheet. The full-back played a quick one-two with Alcacer on the counter, who put a quick cross in the path of full-back, who scored with his first touch.
After some half-chances and end-to-end football, the referee brought an end to a marvellous performance that rewrote Barca’s name into title contention.
A brilliant performance from the Catalans brings some much needed hope for Culés across the globe, who have been underwhelmed all season due to the poor quality of football on display.
This is Barcelona’s second good performance on the trot, and if things keep going on like they did today, the Blaugrana might spring a surprising upset in La Liga.
Onward and Upward!