Barcelona put on arguably their best performance of the season as they condemned Las Palmas to a 5-0 whitewash in La Liga on Saturday.
Luis Enrique tinkered with his Barca team, benching Neymar and Andres Iniesta and resting Gareth Pique and Sergi Roberto. Taking their places were peripheral quartet Arda Turan, Rafinha, Javier Mascherano and Aleix Vidal.
All 10 of the Catalans’ outfield players rushed to station themselves in the visitors’ half of the pitch, keen to quickly take the initiative. It was a risky strategy but one that paid off just 14 minutes in.
Gomes sprang Las Palmas’ offside trap before centring the ball in Las Palmas’ penalty area to Suarez, who drilled a finish past Javi Varas.
There was almost a quick-fire second for Barca as lovely interchange between Arda Turan and Rafinha allowed the latter to sneak into the Las Palmas box and cut the ball back for Suarez to round off, but the No 9’s route to goal was blocked off by the tightest of margins.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, meanwhile, was played onside by Mascherano, but the attacker couldn’t guide his flicked volley at Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s near post on target, in what was the only meaningful opening for Quique Setien’s men.
Back at Las Palmas’ end, superb close-control from Messi resulted in him playing a slide-rule pass into the path of Rafinha, but the midfielder dragged his shot wide from close range, prompting the frustrations of an unmarked Suarez.
Still, the beautiful football kept flowing on the hosts’ part. Arda played a reverse pass to Suarez on his left, before the No 9 picked out Gomes at the far post. However, the Portuguese’s first-time, point-blank finish was pushed away by Varas.
Rafinha then came a whisker away from sliding home Messi’s low delivery across Varas’ goal, before Gomes snatched at a gilt-edged chance after he was clipped through by Sergio Busquets.
Las Palmas were the only La Liga team that Messi had yet to score against, and his second free kick of the afternoon forced a fingertip save from Varas.
He proceeded to pick the pocket of Aythami Artiles near his own box, the Las Palmas substitute opting against bringing down the No 10 for a certain red card, but couldn’t beat Varas one-on-one, with the goalkeeper making a brilliant, instinctive stop.
Coming back out for the restart, two chances fell to Boateng, who attempted an acrobatic volley just inside the Barca box and squeezed between Barca’s centre-backs when a cross came in, but the Ghanaian failed to take either.
The misses were quickly pounced on by Messi, who managed to achieve the feat of scoring against every La Liga team he had faced as he net the rebound from Varas’ mistake after the goalkeeper could only parry a low cross into the No 10’s path.
Suarez then grabbed his third goal as he found the perfect mix of power and precision from a standing position near the edge of Las Palmas’ box to beat the custodian.
The Uruguayan was away in the clear moments later after he made a mockery of the Canaries’ continued high line. Varas stopped his initial shot but couldn’t do anything about Arda’s rebound.
That goal was La Blaugrana’s third in a seven-minute spell and quickly followed by Ivan Rakitic entering the pitch to a huge round of applause, much like his cameo against Athletic Bilbao earlier in the week.
Paco Alcacer replaced two-goal hero Suarez for the final 20 minutes, and he went some way towards repaying his Coach as he assisted Vidal for Barca’s fifth, the right-back capping off an excelent display by finishing with the swagger of a Leo Messi.
Alcacer appeared to be in for goal No 6, but his point-blank finish was blocked by Varas.
Barcelona 5-0 Las Palmas
Suarez 14, 57, Messi 52, Arda 59, Vidal 80
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Vidal, Mascherano, Umtiti, Vidal; Gomes (Rakitic 62), Busquets (Mathieu 73), Rafinha; Messi, Suarez (Alcacer 68), Arda
Las Palmas: Varas; Michel, David (Aythami 34), Lemos, Lopes; Mesa, Viera, Vicente (Mateo 62); El Zhar (Livaja 84), Prince, Tana
Referee: Undiano Mallenco