Barcelona will be expected to continue their perfect record in the 2017-18 La Liga season on Sunday as they welcome Las Palmas to the Camp Nou for what should be an entertaining clash.
After a summer of disappointment in the transfer market, it wouldn't have been a massive surprise to see the Blaugrana get out of the blocks slowly this term. However, new manager Ernesto Valverde has found a way to get this team flourishing, and they've won all six league matches so far.
Las Palmas have struggled for much of 2017, and manager Manolo Marquez recently quit his position after a testing three months. Former Valencia boss Pako Ayestaran has been appointed as his successor
Read on for the key viewing details ahead of the match, the big team news and a preview of what to expect in Catalonia.
Date: Sunday, October 1
Time: 3:15 p.m. (BST), 10:15 a.m. (ET)
TV Info: Sky Sports (UK), beIN Sports (U.S.)
Barcelona: Rafinha and Ousmane Dembele are both long-term absentees for Barca, and Gerard Deulofeu missed the UEFA Champions League clash with Sporting CP in midweek.
Las Palmas: Not only does Ayestaran have a team lacking in confidence, he has one that's been ravaged by injury issues. Barcelona loanee Sergi Samper and ex-Blaugrana man Alen Halilovic are both missing, while the likes of Loic Remy and Vitolo are both doubtful.
Likely XI: Leandro Chichizola; Michel Macedo, Ximo Navarro, Mauricio Lemos, Borja Herrera; Alberto Aquilani, Javi Castellano; Tana, Jonathan Viera, Oussama Tannane; Loic Remy
As always tends to be the case with Barcelona, their recent run of wonderful form has been inspired by the magic of Messi, as he's excelled in the early weeks of the season. But under Valverde, other players are beginning to find their feet.
In midfield, the new coach has managed to find a way of getting the best from Andres Iniesta and Busquets again, and while Neymar's departure left a big hole in the attacking setup, the freedom now afforded to Messi has made him so difficult to contain.
In the 3-0 win over Girona in their last domestic outing, there were signs that Suarez was looking back in form after a slow start to the season, too.
Ben Hayward of Goal put his struggles into some context:
Ben Hayward @bghayward
Three of last four Barça goals have been own goals. That means OG (three) has more for the club than Luis Suárez (two) this season... #UCL2017-9-27 19:56:47
While Barca were revered for their attacking play when Messi, Suarez and Neymar linked up so well together, they have made moves to be more pragmatic under their new coach.
The midfield is more compact and has helped protect a defensive structure that was flimsy at times last term. Even without the stricken Dembele, there's a sense Barca will create enough chances to win any game, and as such, keeping a clean sheet is vital.
As noted by Squawka Football, their defence has been one of the tightest anywhere in Europe so far this season:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Fewest goals conceded in Europe’s top 5 leagues: Borussia Dortmund (1) Inter Milan (2) Barcelona (2) Hannover (2) Man City (2) Man Utd (2) https://t.co/adG6ta9LSd2017-9-25 06:26:00
It'll be interesting to see how Las Palmas go about the challenge of trying to break down this Barcelona team.
The club is renowned for playing attacking football, and while that can leave them open at times at the back, when they get it right, they're a match for anyone. However, Ayestaran is a little more pragmatic than his predecessors, and with some key attackers missing, he may go back to basics at the Camp Nou.
Even so, there are some talented footballers in all-yellow who can unsettle Barcelona. Per WhoScored.com, a lot of their possession-based football stems from Lemos at the back:
Mauricio Lemos: Became the first player to make 100 accurate passes in a single game in La Liga this season, vs Leganes https://t.co/ObWQ4z28TG2017-9-25 08:33:02
No matter how they approach this game, there will be huge expectation on the Blaugrana to get the job done anyway, especially against a side that were appalling last weekend in a 2-0 loss to Leganes.
Some sides can go to Barcelona, dig in and frustrate their hosts for long spells. Yet at this juncture, Las Palmas don't appear to have that type of display within them.