The lowdown on Unión Deportiva Las Palmas

The lowdown on Unión Deportiva Las Palmas

The Canary Islanders are back in La Liga after a five-year absence, and here's our guide to the side FC Barcelona meet this Thursday

FC Barcelona are off to the Canary Islands this Thursday, and here you'll find all of the essentials on a team that are back in the top flight after half a decade in the second division, and who have a large contingent of players (and also a manager) with a blaugrana past.

Where are they from?

Las Palmas is the capital of the island of Gran Canaria, part of the Canaries, the Spanish islands that lie off the coast of north-west Africa. With a population of 381,223, it's the ninth biggest city in Spain. Because of its location, it is much warmer than mainland Spain, and even in January temperatures are around 20°C.


Unión Deportivo Las Palmas was founded in 1949 as an amalgamation of various smaller clubs in the city, and enjoyed immediate success. They took just two years to reach La Liga, and remained there almost permanently for four decades, finishing as high as second in 1969 and reaching the Copa del Rey Final in 1978.

Since they were relegated in 1988, the club's fortunes have dropped. Other than two short spells in the top flight, they have spent the last three and half decades in the second and third divisions, but last season they won their way back to the highest category.


Las Palmas' traditional home was the Estadio Insular, but in 2003 they moved to their more modern ground, the 32,400 capacity Estadio Gran Canaria. It's the biggest stadium in the Canary Islands and the 14th largest in Spain.

Head to head

Barça have not lost to Las Palmas in any of their last 14 meetings. We have to go all the way back to 1986 to find the Islanders' last victory in the league, 3-0 at the old Insular stadium. However, the sides haven't played at all for six years, so past results aren't much to go by!

Last five meetings (all la Liga)
01/03/18 Las Palmas 1-1 Barça
01/10/17 Barça 3-0 Las Palmas
14/05/17 Las Palmas 1-4 Barça
14/01/17 Barça 5-0 Las Palmas
20/02/16 Las Palmas 1-2 Barça

Form guide

Las Palmas struggled on their return to first division football, failing to win any of their first five matches. But the results then started picking up, and with seven wins from their next 11 matches, they found themselves in the top half of the table.

They ended 2023 with a draw at home to Cádiz and a defeat in Bilbao, but they'll be happy enough to be going into 2024 in ninth place.

The players

International caps
Sory Kaba (Guinea, 21), Saúl Coco (Equatorial Guinea, 13), Julián Araujo (USA 1, Mexico 12), Munir El Haddadi (Spain 1, Morocco 11), Omenuke Mfulu (DR Congo, 3)

Barça connections
Although Sandro Ramírez is from Las Palmas, he spent most of his teenage years at La Masia, and played 17 times for the senior team, the most memorable game being his hat-trick against Villanovense in the Copa del Rey. He left for Malaga and after a fine season was signed by Everton, where he failed to pin down a first team place. He's since been at a number of clubs around Spain, and is now back in his home town.

Catalan defender Mika Mármol (below) was also at Barça B and played his only first team game against Getafe in 2022, coming on as a substitute for Alejandro Balde. He was then sold to Andorra, and joined Las Palmas last summer.

Mika Mármol
Mika Mármol

Mika Mármol

The Spaniard of Moroccan descent Munir El Haddadi was one of Barça's most exciting young talents of the mid 2010s, but after loan spells at Valencia and Alavés he chose not to return and instead joined Sevilla. He then spent a year at Getafe before moving to Las Palmas last summer.

Catalan striker Marc Cardona (below) was at Barça B from 2016 to 2019, but despite several call-ups for senior duty never got to make his first team debut. He was then at Eibar, Osasuna, Mallorca and Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands before joining Las Palmas a year ago.

Marc Cardona celebrates one of three goals against l'Escala

Mexican-Californian Julián Araujo, a promising young right back with the LA Galaxy, signed for Barça in 2023, but was immediately loaned out to Las Palmas where he is gaining important experience of European football.

The manager

Francisco Javier García Pimienta is a well-known face at FC Barcelona and is much of the reason why so many players with a blaugrana past are featuring in the Las Palmas squad. The Catalan was a product of the club's youth system, but only ever played one game for the first team and spent the remainder of his playing career in the lower leagues.

He then started coaching back in the Barça youth system, and impressed so much in the role that he was soon managing the U19 team to victory in the 2017–18 UEFA Youth League. He followed that with three years in charge of Barça B. After he was dismissed, he was offered his present job at Las Palmas, who he guided into the promotion playoffs in two consecutive years, and in 2023 finally got the islanders back into the top flight where they are now.

Força Barça
Força Barça

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