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The lowdown on Unión Deportiva Las Palmas

FC Barcelona are at home to Las Palmas this Saturday and here you’ll find all of the essentials on a team that are back in the top flight after half a decade in the second division, and who have a large contingent of players (and also a manager) with a blaugrana past.

Where are they from?

Las Palmas is the capital of the island of Gran Canaria, part of the Canaries, the Spanish islands that lie off the coast of north-west Africa. With a population of 381,223, it’s the ninth biggest city in Spain. Because of its location, it is much warmer than mainland Spain, and even in January temperatures are around 20°C.


Unión Deportivo Las Palmas was founded in 1949 as an amalgamation of various smaller clubs in the city, and enjoyed immediate success. They took just two years to reach La Liga, and remained there almost permanently for four decades, finishing as high as second in 1969 and reaching the Copa del Rey Final in 1978.

Since they were relegated in 1988, the club’s fortunes have dropped. Other than two short spells in the top flight, they have spent the last three and half decades in the second and third divisions, but last season they won their way back to the highest category.

Head to head

The 2-1 win in the Canary Islands earlier this year, in which the home side took an early lead through former Barça man Munir but the Catalans managed to turn things around with goals from Ferran Torres and Ilkay Gundogan, extended the unbeaten run against Las Palmas to 15 matches.

We have to go all the way back to 1986 to find the Islanders’ last victory in the league, 3-0 at the old Insular stadium. And it’s not since 1971 that Barça lost this fixture at home. Of 34 games in total played in the Catalan capital, Barça have only once failed to score, and that was way back in 1969-70.

Last five meetings (all la Liga)
04/01/24 Las Palmas 1-2 Barça
01/03/18 Las Palmas 1-1 Barça
01/10/17 Barça 3-0 Las Palmas
14/05/17 Las Palmas 1-4 Barça
14/01/17 Barça 5-0 Las Palmas


Form guide

Las Palmas struggled on their return to first division football, failing to win any of their first five matches. But the results then started picking up, and after seven wins from their next 11 matches, they found themselves in the top half of the table.

A generally solid campaign has gone somewhat off track in recent weeks, with Las Palmas failing to win any of their last five matches, hitting a new low just before the international break when they were beaten 1-0 at home to Almeria, a side that hadn’t won a game all season.

Did you know?

A curious stat that makes one suspect that we could be in for an exciting finale on Saturday… Las Palmas is second in the league this season for points won after the 85th minute of a game, having won 8 points from such late scrambles. And the team that tops the ranking? Why, that’s Barça with an immense 14. Two teams that never give up until the final whistle blows.

Robert Lewandowski has already scored against 18 of the 22 teams that he has faced in the league, but Las Palmas is one name that’s missing from his collection. Here’s his chance to do something about that statistic!

The players

International caps
Sory Kaba (Guinea, 21), Saúl Coco (Equatorial Guinea, 19), Julián Araujo (USA 1, Mexico 13), Munir El Haddadi (Spain 1, Morocco 11), Omenuke Mfulu (DR Congo, 5), José Campaña (Spain, 1)

Barça connections
Although Sandro Ramírez is from Las Palmas, he spent most of his teenage years at La Masia, and played 17 times for the senior team, the most memorable game being his hat-trick against Villanovense in the Copa del Rey. He left for Malaga and after a fine season was signed by Everton, where he failed to pin down a first team place. He’s since been at a number of clubs around Spain, and is now back in his home town.

Catalan defender Mika Mármol (below) was also at Barça B and played his only first team game against Getafe in 2022, coming on as a substitute for Alejandro Balde. He was then sold to Andorra, and joined Las Palmas last summer.

Mika Mármol
Mika Mármol

Mika Mármol

The Spaniard of Moroccan descent Munir El Haddadi was one of Barça’s most exciting young talents of the mid 2010s, but after loan spells at Valencia and Alavés he chose not to return and instead joined Sevilla. He then spent a year at Getafe before moving to Las Palmas last summer.

Catalan striker Marc Cardona (below) was at Barça B from 2016 to 2019, but despite several call-ups for senior duty never got to make his first team debut. He was then at Eibar, Osasuna, Mallorca and Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands before joining Las Palmas a year ago.

Marc Cardona celebrates one of three goals against l'Escala

Mexican-Californian Julián Araujo, a promising young right back with the LA Galaxy, signed for Barça in 2023, but was immediately loaned out to Las Palmas where he is gaining important experience of European football.

The manager

Francisco Javier García Pimienta is a well-known face at FC Barcelona and is much of the reason why so many players with a blaugrana past are featuring in the Las Palmas squad. The Catalan was a product of the club’s youth system, but only ever played one game for the first team and spent the remainder of his playing career in the lower leagues.

He then started coaching back in the Barça youth system, and impressed so much in the role that he was soon managing the U19 team to victory in the 2017–18 UEFA Youth League. He followed that with three years in charge of Barça B. After he was dismissed, he was offered his present job at Las Palmas, who he guided into the promotion playoffs in two consecutive years, and in 2023 finally got the islanders back into the top flight where they are now.


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