Three questions and three answers from Barcelona 1-0 Las Palmas


A fourth consecutive victory in all competitions was on the cards when Barcelona took on Las Palmas last night at Montjuic. The Catalans swept aside their opponents with relative ease, I never really had any difficulties at any time during the game.

The winning goal arrived for Xavi’s side after a long period of bona fide dominance thanks to a well-worked header from Raphinha. Truth be told, though, the goal was created purely through the genius of Joao Felix.

The victory takes Barcelona to 67 points in the league standings and five points behind Real Madrid. Whites will face Athletic Club later in the evening, giving the Catalans a chance to reduce the deficit.

Barça Universal offers you three questions and three answers from Barcelona 1-0 Las Palmas.

Three answers

Would Xavi rotate his team?

As club football resumed after a two-week hiatus, many believed Xavi would look to balance out overworked players’ minutes during the international break.

The upcoming UEFA Champions League clash and the pace required for it, however, appear to have constrained Xavi against the choice of rotations. After all, the manager practically used his strongest XI last night.

The absences of Frenkie de Jong and Pedri in midfield forced Xavi to start Ilkay Gundogan again, giving the German captain no respite after the international break. He was joined by Fermin Lopez and Sergi Roberto, both starters against Atletico Madrid.

Xavi is not considering rotations at the moment (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

The situation in the final third was the same since the coach chose to start Lamine Yamal and Robert Lewandowski despite the overwork of the two players.

Could Barcelona continue their momentum?

After a seemingly endless run of wins and close draws, Barcelona were released from their shackles against Napoli in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.

The Catalans showed visible improvement that evening, dominating the first half and quickly leading 2-0. However, they struggled a bit in the middle of the game before Sergi Roberto’s magic created a Lewandowski goal to seal the match.

The 3-1 scoreline looked pretty on Barcelona’s scoresheet, and the momentum carried into the match against Atletico Madrid where the Catalans secured a superb 3-0 result.

So it was interesting to see if the team could maintain their positive momentum after a two-week hiatus, and indeed they did.

The scoreline may not boast a dominant performance, but Barcelona’s performance against Las Palmas deserved a bigger margin. After all, they created three big chances, hit the posts twice and had a goal wrongly denied.

How would the two defensive absences affect Barcelona?

The absence of Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen should have a direct bearing on Barcelona’s result against Garcia Pimienta’s side. After all, the Uruguay and Denmark international serve as the first choice central defender and pivot respectively.

Inigo Martinez and Ilkay Gundogan respectively took charge, and it’s safe to say that the match was one of Barcelona’s surest defensive performances.

Pau Cubarsi, once again, produced a masterclass in defense with nine defensive actions, one key pass and a passing accuracy of 96%. Martinez, meanwhile, had 110 superb touches and completed five long balls.

The singing central defenders were only helped by Jules Koundé’s masterful performance on the right which included three key passes, 98 passes and six defensive actions.

Overall, the visitors did not create any big chances and recorded an xG of just 0.29 over the two halves without a shot on target.

Three questions

Why can’t Joao Felix play regularly at the same level?

Despite their dominance that evening, Barcelona largely struggled to find the back of the net against Las Palmas due to deficiencies in the final third.

Joao Felix made the difference against Las Palmas (Photo by Pau Barrena / AFP) (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

The X-factor of the team’s impressive second half, in many ways, was Joao Felix.

The Portuguese starlet came on in the 56th minute and was unplayable from his first touch. It took just three minutes to deliver a stunning assist in the team’s first game and his influence on the game only grew with time.

In addition to his assist, Félix hit the uprights once, missed a big chance, made a key pass and completed a dribble in just 34 minutes. He was actually millimeters away from scoring the team’s second goal and was hit hard by the woodwork.

Every now and then, the youngster delivers a power-packed performance that demands more minutes. So the question on fans’ minds is: why can’t he maintain his high quality with consistency?

When will Ilkay Gundogan get his deserved rest?

Of all the cogs that Xavi considers essential in his setup, Ilkay Gundogan and Robert Lewandowski are arguably the two most in dire need of rest.

The German and Polish combination have featured in almost all of Barcelona’s games this season and it’s high time the manager opted to rotate them as they could well be crossing a fine line fitness-wise.

Gundogan deserves a break before a crucial period (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Both players, once again, will play against Paris Saint-Germain on April 10. Lewandowski will be rested for Barcelona’s clash against Cadiz as he missed the match due to suspension, leaving fans with just one question: when will Gundogan’s turn arrive?

Barcelona faces PSG immediately after Cadiz and then enters The classic. If Xavi doesn’t manage the German’s minutes effectively in the coming weeks, he could have a lot to regret.

Can Barcelona pull off the Paris heist?

Passing through the The Blaugrana last three matches, the fight in Paris suddenly appears more balanced.

THE Parisianslargely carried by Kylian Mbappe, were considered favorites to win against Barcelona given the poor form Xavi’s team was suffering from.

But the story today is very different. With momentum returning to their side, a tangible improvement in defense, a solid plan in place to take on Mbappe and dynamic unity in the final third, Barcelona have a good chance of making an impression in Paris.

The return of Pedri and de Jong will only increase their chances of qualifying and securing their place in a desirable semi-final.

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