Tactical Insights

Las Palmas’ Barcelona old boys will be hell-bent on slowing down Real Madrid on Saturday… as the in-form Canary Islands club continues to make a push for Europe

  • Las Palmas, including ex-Barcelona players, are in action against Real Madrid 
  • Francisco Garcia Piementa’s side are just a point off the European places 
  • Why Jurgen Klopp quit and who Liverpool should go for now – Listen to It’s All Kicking Off 

Real Madrid travel to face one of La Liga’s revelation sides Las Palmas on Saturday and they do so knowing a win for the visitors will be celebrated like a victory for Barcelona.

Las Palmas are only a point from the European places despite coming up from the second division last season with expectations of fighting for survival and little more.

They have second best possession stats in the league and only Real Madrid have conceded fewer goals. Led by hugely talented former Barça B coach Francisco Garcia Pimienta and with former Barcelona strikers Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez in attack there are no shortages of reasons for Las Palmas to want to upset a Real Madrid side without the suspended Jude Bellingham.

‘The manager has been very important for us,’ said Munir ahead of the game. ‘He sets the style and he keeps the group strong. We want to play in the opposition’s half. We want to be close to their goal when we win the ball back. It’s the style that he wants and it’s the style I’m used to.’

Garcia Pimienta was ruthlessly kicked out by Joan Laporta when he took over as Barça president despite two decades of service and at one time being tipped as possible first team coach. Such has been Las Palmas stunning form this season that if Barcelona were to move Xavi on, the 49-year-old would be among the candidates to take charge next season.

Former Barcelona striker Munir El Haddadi is looking to help Las Palmas beat Real Madrid
Las Palmas boss Francisco Garcia Pimienta was ruthlessly kicked out by Barcelona

He won the Uefa Youth League with Barcelona in 2018 beating Chelsea 3-0 in the final. He was also the coach that brought Munir to the club.

‘He took me to Barça because I was playing for Rayo Majadahonda,’ Munir said. ‘He watched one of our games in which I scored a hat-trick. He spoke to me after the game and an offer came in and I wasn’t going to go because my mum didn’t want me to go but in the end I went to Barça’s youth academy and I was coached for two years by him. He taught me a lot and helped me a lot and I am very grateful to him. And he called me again to bring me to Las Palmas.’

Munir made his Barcelona debut in 2014 and played for two seasons at the club until he joined Valencia on loan. The competition for places in attack was impossible at the time with the club boasting a front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

These two are not the only with firm Barça links going into the game against Real Madrid with added motivation. Striker Marc Cardona was a forward for the Barça B team, Sandro Ramirez also starred in the B team and ended up making his debut in the same season as Munir. And Mika Marmol was a highly rated centre-back in the club’s youth academy. Las Palmas also have Julian Araujo on loan from Barcelona although he is currently suspended.

‘His style suits me because I understand it perfectly and the players who have come through our youth system have been reared on it too,’ Munir told Sportsmail. ‘We like to play the ball and the training sessions are possession based.’

Sandro Ramirez featured for Barcelona as a youngster and is now at Las Palmas
Munir commenced his senior career at Barcelona and played 56 games for the club

If Las Palmas can cause a shock and become the first team to beat Real Madrid at home this season then it will move Garcia Pimienta’s team into a European place ahead of Valencia’s visit to Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

It will also serve as a reminder to Barcelona of the quality of the coach they let slip away in 2021. As well as lend them a huge helping hand in the league. A shock win for Las Palmas coupled with a Barcelona home win over Villarreal later on Saturday and the gap between Xavi’s team and Real Madrid will be cut to four points.

Xavi needs a helping hand from someone who could even replace him in the hot-seat one day.


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