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For different reasons, Leo Messi, Juan Valerón and Sergio Araujo are among the names to look out for on what is set to be an uncharacteristically damp weekend in the Canary Islands
Midwinter sun? No chance!
Off the west coast of Africa, with a subtropical climate, even at this time of year the weather in the Canary Islands is usually warm and sunny. Not now though. The place is currently taking a severe bashing!
Winds of up to 100km an hour, ice-cold temperatures and huge downpours of rain, hail and even snow have Gran Canaria in a state of ‘orange alert’, with several parts of the island cut off due to flooding.
None of this is likely to help the pitch in Las Palmas, which was already suffering damage from a fungus infection. At the moment, there is no threat of the game being called off, but Luis Enrique did admit on Friday that the conditions might affect his team selection.
The Las Palmas squad includes 24 year old striker Sergio Araujo, who spent the 2012/13 season at Barça B on loan from Boca Juniors in his native Argentina. He played 34 matches for the FCB reserves, scoring seven goals.
In 19 of those games he was in the same line-up as current Barça first team star Sergi Roberto.
Valerón joins 400 club
If he plays on Saturday, 40-year-old Juan Valerón will make an impressive 400th appearance in the Spanish top flight. Before his nine games for Las Palmas this season, he also played Liga football with Mallorca (36 games), Atlético Madrid (65) and Deportivo (289).
The veteran attacking midfielder, who also has 46 international caps for Spain, is a native of Gran Canaria, and is now back at the club where he played his first two seasons as a professional, when Las Palmas were playing in the second division.
Las Palmas in trouble
Struggling Las Palmas brought Quique Setién in as manager in late October of last year. Despite new tactics and greater use of players like Garrido, Culio, Wakaso and El Zhar, the results have not improved, and the team is still languishing in the relegation zone.
All things considered, however, their home form has not been too bad at all. Eighteen of their 21 points this season have been won at the Estadio Gran Canaria. And as Luis Enrique reminded us on Friday, “teams at the bottom of the table tend to start winning more games towards the end of the season. That’s a big danger for us.”
Messi seeks full house
Las Palmas is the only team in the current Spanish First Division that Lionel Messi has never scored against. Not that he has had much chance.
In his only game against the club, at the Camp Nou last September, he was only on the pitch for ten minutes before withdrawing with torn ligaments in his left knee. Luis Suárez went on to score both of the goals in a 2-1 win.
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