Defending champions Barcelona open the new year with an away fixture against Las Palmas at Gran Canaria on Thursday.
Barcelona currently sits fourth in the league standings, while Las Palmas, newly promoted, occupies the ninth spot.
Las Palmas, despite ending 2023 with a loss against Athletic Bilbao, has had a commendable return to La Liga after an absence since 2017-18.
Their record of seven wins, four draws, and seven losses puts them just three points away from the top seven.
While they haven’t been prolific scorers, their defense has been solid, conceding only 15 goals this season, second only to Real Madrid.
The team’s home performances have been particularly strong, having lost only one of their eight league matches at Estadio de Gran Canaria.
Las Palmas aims to replicate their earlier success against Atletico Madrid at home by challenging Barcelona, a feat they haven’t achieved since 1991.
Barcelona, on the other hand, had an inconsistent end to 2023, dropping points in three of their last five league matches.
They begin the new year seven points behind joint leaders Real Madrid and Girona.
While they secured a narrow 3-2 win against Almeria in their last game, their away form has seen five draws in eight matches, including their recent fixtures against Valencia and Rayo Vallecano.
Although they had a draw in their previous meeting in 2018, Barcelona’s history of five consecutive victories against Las Palmas before that encounter provides optimism for a positive result.
Las Palmas will be missing Alvaro Lemos due to injury, and Fabio Gonzalez and Alberto Moleiro are doubtful due to injury concerns.
Barcelona loanee Julian Araujo won’t feature against his parent club due to loan agreement clauses, making way for Alex Suarez in defense.
For Barcelona, Pedri remains sidelined with a muscle injury, while Ter Stegen, Inigo Martinez, Marcos Alonso, and Gavi are also unavailable.
Frenkie de Jong is set to return from suspension, while Jules Kounde and Ferran Torres are expected to start. New signing Vitor Roque could debut if paperwork is completed in time.
Las Palmas: (4-3-3)
Suarez, Coco, Marmol, Cardona;
Munoz, Perrone, Rodriguez;
Park, Munir, Sandro
Cancelo, Araujo, Kounde, Balde;
Roberto, De Jong, Gundogan;
Raphinha, Torres, Lewandowski
Prediction: Las Palmas 1-2 Barcelona
Barcelona faces a tough test against Las Palmas, who have been formidable at home this season. Yet, given Barcelona’s quality, they are tipped to secure a narrow victory over the promoted side.