Tactical Insights

Barcelona vs Las Palmas, La Liga: Final Score 1-0, Raphinha scores winner as Barça secure tough victory at home

Barcelona remain in second place in the La Liga table and are now just five points off the top thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Las Palmas at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium on Saturday night. Barça were the better side all night and played against 10 men for over an hour, but could never put the game away and had to go through some tense moments at the end. But they got all three points which was the main goal, and they’ll now have 10 full days to focus on the Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain knowing they are still alive in the domestic title race.


Barça made a strong start to the game, pressing Las Palmas high up the pitch and winning the ball in dangerous positions. Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring five minutes in but was offside and the goal was ruled out, but the Catalans continued to create problems with their pressing and their quick, incisive passing through the lines.

The home team had the ball in the back of the net for the second time in the 19th minute through Raphinha, but a very strange offside call on the Brazilian even though he had no impact in the buildup and was onside by the moment he scored caused the goal to be ruled out. VAR checked and confirmed the call, but it was a difficult one to fully comprehend.

The referees were in action once again five minutes later when Las Palmas goalkeeper Álvaro Valles came rushing out of his goal and completely took out Raphinha outside the box, and the referee had no choice but to show a straight red card. The visitors were suddenly down to 10 men, and changed formations to a very compact 5-3-1 looking to absorb pressure and not allow Barça spaces.

The home team still managed to create two big chances against a parked bus, but Lewandowski’s header hit the crossbar and Raphinha missed a big chance with a shot inside the box that went just wide. Las Palmas almost scored a shock opener with a free-kick by Coco that flew past Marc-André ter Stegen and hit the side netting, but no goals were scored after 45 minutes.

At halftime Barça were somehow not ahead despite their dominance, and they still had work to do to secure the win in the final period.


Barça knew they needed to be patient in the second half against a Las Palmas side that would defend even deeper and use every timewasting tactic in the book to frustrate the home team. The Blaugrana did a good job of moving the ball quickly without being desperate, and continued to wait for the right moment to strike.

And that moment came at the hour mark: João Félix, who had been on the pitch for just three minutes after replacing Fermín López, played an outrageous pass over the top of the defense to pick out the run of Raphinha, who was all alone inside the box and headed the ball over the keeper and into the net to put Barça in front.

The goal helped settle the nerves and allowed Barça to focus on getting a second to make sure of the points, while Las Palmas had nothing to lose and took a few risks going forward in search of an unlikely equalizer. Barça had a golden chance to kill the game off with 15 minutes to go when Jules Kounde gave Félix a tap-in with an open net at the far post, but the substitute inexplicably hit the crossbar.

The game was still not over as we reached the final 10 minutes, and Las Palmas sensed there was a chance to steal a point. The visitors went forward looking for it, and Alberto Moleiro was allowed to go on a solo run through the right wing and hit a dangerous shot against the side netting that almost stunned Montjuïc in the dying seconds.

There were a couple of other tense moments for the home crowd at the end, but Barça managed to keep a clean sheet and the final whistle came to give them all three points. It was a more comfortable win than the score and the late drama suggests, and Barça played better against a parked bus than they usually do. It wasn’t a great performance, but it was good enough to beat a well-coached team that fought very hard even with 10 men.

Now it’s onto PSG, and when Barça return to La Liga action in two weeks they might have a real shot at the title.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Cubarsí, Iñigo, Cancelo; Gündogan, Roberto (Romeu 81’); Yamal (Ferran 71’), Fermín (Félix 56’), Raphinha; Lewandowski (Roque 81’)

Goal: Raphinha (59’)

Las Palmas: Valles; Suárez, Coco, Mármol, Cardona (Benito 78’); Muñoz (Campaña 71’), Kirian, Loiodice (Moleiro 71’); Park, Munir (Aarón 28’), Sandro (M. Cardona 78’)

Goals: None

Red Card: Valles (25’)

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