Barça visit Las Palmas on Sunday at 8.00pm CET for yet another must-win fixture. Here we take a closer look at the side that has secured top flight football for a third consecutive season.
Located on Gran Canaria, the largest of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, the journey of 2,176 kilometres (1352 miles) makes for by far the longest road trip that Barça will have to make this Liga season.- in fact it’s roughly the same as travelling to Istanbul, Kiev or Stockholm!
Five smaller clubs merged in 1949 to form the Unión Deportiva Las Palmas, the idea being to create a single team that would be strong enough to prevent the exodus of players to the mainland. Within two years they were playing in the first division and remained there for most of the next three decades. But since relegation in 1988 they have spent most of their time in the second division.
The 33,111 capacity Estadio de Gran Canaria was opened in 2003 as a modern replacement for the old Estadio Insular. There are plans afoot to raise the capacity to 40,000 in the near future. It’s the only stadium in LaLiga where Leo Messi has never scored – but let’s hope he sets that record straight on Sunday!
The yellow and blue strip reflects the colours of the Gran Canaria flag, which in turn draw inspiration from the island’s splendid beaches and seas. The Las Palmas second strip, meanwhile, rotates each year between the colours of the five teams that merged to found the club in 1949.
Best known for his time at Racing Santander, Quique Setién was an impressive 38 when he retired from professional football in 1996. He’s been at charge at Las Palmas since 2015, but like Luis Enrique at Barça has already announced that he’ll be leaving his club at the end of the season – so this will be his final home game.
There’s only one member of the Las Palmas squad who has spent time at Barça, and that’s midfielder Alen Halilović. The Croatian joined Barça B in 2014, but was then sent on loan to Sporting Gijón and eventually sold to SV Hamburg. After struggling in Germany, he’s been on loan to the Canary Islanders since January of this year.
The club crest features a crown, an honour usually limited in Spain to teams that have been granted the royal (‘real’) seal. The reason is that the UD Las Palmas crest is an amalgamation of the badges of the five teams that merged in 1949, one of which was Real Club Victoria.