5 main talking points after the win over Las Palmas
This farce should never have happened
There were supporters outside Camp Nou with 15 minutes to go until kick-off, who still had no idea whether or not the game was still on. Thousands of fans waited outside the stadium, not having been informed the game was going to be played behind closed doors. This was everybody’s fault. From La Liga’s, for scheduling the game on Sunday, the day of the referendum in Catalonia, to Barcelona’s, for not making a clear, decisive decision. Barcelona decided the game had to go ahead—betraying their principles of standing with their people—and leaving fans stranded.Even making the decision to play it behind closed doors could have been done a lot earlier, to save supporters travelling to the stadium.
Eerie Camp Nou atmosphere influences players
There was an eerie atmosphere at Camp Nou, a place in which there is regularly close to 100,000 people. Usually teams play behind closed doors as a punishment.Barcelona certainly seemed to be affected by it in a flat performance, while Las Palmas took the opportunity to play in what is usually an imposing place to go, and got stuck in.The Catalans were rattled and picked up four yellow cards in a frustrating first half, although they raised their level after the break.
Sergio Busquets a symbolic goalscorer
On a day where political tensions overshadowed the game, it was fitting that a Catalan opened the scoring for Barcelona.And on such an odd day, it was an equally odd goal. Barcelona aren’t known for scoring from corners, but that’s how they broke the deadlock, with Sergio Busquets nodding home Messi’s corner in the 49th minute.The defensive midfielder doesn’t score many goals but this was an important intervention to lift his team when they needed it most, and they went on to win comfortably.
Messi hits another milestone
The Argentine star can barely move a muscle these days without breaking one record or another.By trotting out against Las Palmas he becomes Barcelona’s third highest appearance maker of all-time, on 594 games, moving past Carles Puyol on 593.Ahead of him are Andres Iniesta, on 639, after his substitute appearance here, and the legendary Xavi Hernandez, who has 767.
Valverde yet to find a convincing formation
Barcelona continued their run of excellent results—this being their ninth win in a row, during which they have only let in two goals.However, just as in the wins over Sporting Lisbon and Girona, the performance left a lot to be desired.Ernesto Valverde picked a 4-4-2 with Luis Suarez pairing Messi up front, but Barcelona struggled to find their rhythm.The end of the Luis Enrique era seemed to imply that the 4-3-3 had reached the end of its use, and with Neymar’s replacement Ousmane Dembele out for four months, Valverde has looked to try something different.The coach has cycled through various formations and is still hunting for the right fit—but obtaining results along the way.