An opportunity to turn over a new leaf presents itself to Xavi’s cavalry with an array of new signings and experimentation in the pre-season enabling Barca to pick up their ashes. However, deeming Rayo Vallecano to be a walk in the park would simply be a far fetch.
Barca vs Rayo Vallecano: The Garnet and Blue will return to official duty after pummeling the Pumas in a destructive 6-0 thrashing and set to host the league opener against Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou in what promises to be an intriguing encounter.
The Red Sashes endured a somewhat turbulent 21/22 campaign with a strong start to the season marred with a major blip in performances. Even so, barely missing out on a top 10 position, Vallecano finished 12th and proved their worth following promotion to the Spanish top flight. The major point of concern for the Blaugranas, though, lies in the fact that they lost both matches to Rayo last term, with Koeman and Xavi suffering 1-0 losses respectively.
In an attempt to turn these ailing fortunes around, being attentive in defensive transition where Rayo are capable of dealing the most damage will be of great significance for Barça. The previous encounter between the Spanish teams saw the Catalans waste 70% of possession and a total of 18 shots, while a single shot on target is all it took for Iraola’s men to come out victorious.
The ideal lineup would be as follows:
Koundé’s inclusion at the heart of defense has been discarded as he is the only player not registered before this weekend’s game. Sergi Roberto is likely to be given the keys alongside Araújo, García, and Alba at the back. Christensen, who suffered some discomfort in the previous match, may sit this one out alongside Gerad Pique who hasn’t returned to full fitness. The aforementioned backline thus promises astute build-up play and ample defensive diligence, especially following their successful preseason.
In midfield, Busquets, Pedri, and Gavi appear to be mainstays with Busquets controlling proceedings from the base of midfield, and Gavi and Pedri complementing their strengths to ensure constant pressure and creativity. Vallecano are likely to maintain brief but purposeful spells of possession, which would require the interiors to break down attacks before they even brew.
Up front, Raphinha, Lewandowski, and Dembélé will be tasked to feast in the final third; the trio has proven to be a major success in previous outings, with Dembélé and Raphinha particularly rotating incessantly, while Lewandowski imposes himself centrally. All three seem to be arriving in great form with no shortage of goals, which exudes optimism considering the number of chances that went begging in the previous matchup versus Rayo Vallecano.
Beginning the league campaign in high spirits will undeniably establish a strong base in this backbreaking season. Taking all these new signings into account, Laporta’s confidence in registering them, and newfound conviction in the squad, there’s no reason to believe Barça won’t bag the three points.
Potential Line up:
Goal Keeper: Ter Stagen
Defenders: Roberto, Araujo, Eric, Alba
Midfielders: Pedri, Busquets, Gavi
Forwards: Dembele, Lewandowski, Raphinha