Alcacer, Arda, Gomes, Vidal - Barcelona's second string step up to help Messi & Suarez

The Catalans thrashed Las Palmas 5-0 and Luis Enrique will have been particularly encouraged by the performance of his fringe players on Saturday


Superb stuff from Barcelona. The Spanish champions dominated their match against Las Palmas from start to finish and came out on top comfortably in a one-sided encounter. And best of all was how several of their second string stepped up on Saturday.

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Barca have sometimes struggled this term when using their fringe players. But as Luis Enrique rotated ahead of a busy period in which Barca will face Real Sociedad twice in the next 12 days, as well as a trip to Eibar in La Liga next weekend, Andre Gomes, Arda Turan, Rafinha, Paco Alcacer and even Aleix Vidal all contributed to an emphatic victory.

This fixture last season saw Lionel Messi injured, the Argentine attacker limping off after just 10 minutes to spend two months on the sidelines with knee ligament damage. After that blow, Luis Suarez scored both of Barca's goals in a 2-1 win.

Messi was just fine on Saturday, though, and Suarez opened the scoring this time as well, smashing home a clinical finish after an excellent cut-back from Gomes, who had one of his better matches in a Barca shirt.

Rafinha was also an energetic presence in midfield for Luis Enrique's side and Barca should have been a few goals up by half-time. Early in the second period, however, Messi made it 2-0 and then Suarez scored again not long afterwards. 

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The Uruguayan striker now has 102 goals for the Catalan club in just 121 appearances, having hit his 100th for the Blaugrana in the 3-1 win over Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night.

This time it was the MSN without Neymar, who was left on the bench along with Andres Iniesta. No problem for Barca, though, and Arda deputised effectively for the Brazilian, linking up well with his team-mates and also scoring the fourth after a Suarez shot had been saved by Javi Varas.

It was akin to a training ground exercise for Barca and with 58 minutes on the clock, the Catalans were 4-0 up. And quite frankly, that could have been the score at the interval against a Las Palmas team that were never in the game.

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Messi even allowed Ivan Rakitic to take a free-kick late in the match, while Alcacer also came off the bench and there were a few minutes for Jeremy Mathieu as well amid a party atmosphere at Camp Nou.

Alcacer was unable to score himself, but the Spain striker did well to set up Vidal for a lovely fifth goal 10 minutes from time and it was a happy afternoon for the Catalan club.

Next up: a tough trip to Anoeta in the Copa del Rey on Thursday. That is an away match that always seems to be difficult for the Blaugrana, but with players rested, confidence boosted and the second string performing, Barca are in good shape ahead of the cup clash.

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