La Liga: Rayo Vallecano 0-4 FC Barcelona: Match Review

David Ramos

A recap of Barcelona's comfortable 4-0 win over Rayo Vallecano at the Vallecas stadium on Saturday, as the Blaugrana extended their 100% record to five games

FC Barcelona followed up their midweek 4-0 UEFA Champions League win over AFC Ajax with another 4-0 win tonight, as they defeated Rayo Vallecano to maintain their 100% start to the campaign. Pedro Rodriguez was the undoubted hero of the night, providing three of Barça’s four goals to walk away with the match-ball while Cesc Fàbregas added a late fourth to continue his impressive start to the season.

Rayo

Barcelona

Possession

54%

46%

Total Shots

13

14

Shots on Target

8

8

Pass Accuracy

82%

76%

Fouls

21

15

Offsides

0

1

Yellow Cards

2

1

Red Cards

0

0

Gerardo Martino continued his well-publicised and well-received rotation policy here tonight against Rayo Vallecano, handing Martin Montoya his first start of the season ahead of regular starter, Dani Alves. Alex Song took over Sergio Busquets’ role as the midfield anchor while Xavi returned to the starting line-up in place of Andrés Iniesta, who dropped to the bench. Pedro was also handed a start – demoting Alexis Sánchez to a back-up role as Neymar and Lionel Messi continued their partnership in the Barcelona attack. Would these changes lead to a disjointed performance from the Blaugrana, or would the fresh faces canter to victory against La Liga’s worst defense?

The raucous crowd inside Vallecas were treated to a high-octane start to the match, as Rayo defied their tiny budget and lowly league standing to start the stronger of the two teams. Pressing high-up the field was a bold move from Paco Jemez – but it was one that paid off. Rayo were by far the more "intense" side in the very early stages, forcing Victor Valdés into action in the Barcelona goal.

And it was all because Rayo was willing to take a risk – they had nothing to lose and everything to gain – overlapping full-back Johan Mojica embodied this confidence, swinging in a great cross to find the head of Jonathan Viera, only for the Spanish forward to be denied an opener by a fine reflex save from Valdés.

Maybe this was going to be "one of those matches"; we’ve seen them an awful lot over the past couple of seasons. Barcelona are the better side, but are completely unable to demonstrate as much thanks to a shaky defense. The clinical strikers on the opposing team take advantage and escape with a favourable result. Could Rayo muster a similar upset? Lionel Messi clearly sensed an anxiousness amongst his colleagues, so he took it upon himself to remind everyone just how dangerous he can be.

Skipping away from a Rayo defender, Messi side-stepped the challenge of Rayo keeper Ruben, only to be thwarted by a last-ditch challenge from Mojica – much to the delight of the home crowd. To them, Barcelona are proof of La Liga’s inequality and general imbalance; just look at the signing of Neymar. Rayo probably don’t generate enough revenue to pay his wages, let alone fund a purchase. Imagine the joy when right-back Tito cleared the Brazilian’s goal-bound effort off the line.

There truly was a fantastic atmosphere inside the stadium; even as Barcelona chipped away, the Rayo fans kept their voice, cheering with every Barça miss as again Neymar went close. To them, it didn’t matter that Lionel Messi was carving his way through their defense almost at will – because it wasn’t affecting the scoreline. As long as Rayo had a chance at a point in this game, those fans were going to be happy.

Just as the majority of Culés were happy to see Martin Montoya in the starting line-up – up until the 21st minute that is, as Montoya’s lack of experience nearly cost Barcelona dearly. As out of practice as Montoya may be, his terrible back-pass was inexcusable and could have nestled in the back of the net. An own-goal would have hardly enhanced his chances of displacing Alves after all.

Thankfully, his mistake didn’t ultimately cause any damage – it was only a scare – meaning that Barcelona could press on in search of the game’s opening goal. In terms of chance creation, we hadn’t seen a shot since Neymar’s poorly struck effort went well wide of the mark on 19 minutes; but that was all about to change thanks to yet another piece of brilliance from Lionel Messi.

With six goals to his name in three La Liga appearances, the odds were on Messi grabbing that opener, but he instead turned creator, threading a nice through ball through to Pedro who calmly slotted the ball past Ruben for his third goal of the season.

In fact, Pedro nearly doubled his tally just a minute later, again combining with Messi – only to see his audacious long-range effort fly over Ruben’s crossbar. The joy was short-lived however, as Adriano uncharacteristically leaped into (and over) Roberto Trashorras, giving the latter a chance to tie the score from the penalty spot. Normally a composed figure from 12 yards, Trashorras went to his left – only to be denied by Victor Valdés who leapt to his right for the second time this week to save yet another spot-kick.

Surprisingly enough, while Barcelona were a goal ahead at the half-time interval, they were actually losing the possession battle 47% to 53%.

To borrow a line from the (recent) Madridista phrasebook, what does possession really matter? What matters in football is goals – and Barcelona were not only ahead, but doubling their lead just minutes after the restart, as Pedro grabbed his second of the night following a superb low cross from Cesc Fàbregas. It was Cesc’s fifth assist of the season and one that really handed Barcelona a bit of needed breathing room in this tough fixture.

Rayo coach Paco Jemez was distraught – for the most part his plan had worked well. His side had created the occasional chance and were stopping the Blaugrana from exerting their usual control over the match but they were still behind. Barring a miraculous recovery, they were almost certainly not getting anything out of this game.

I could understand his frustration to a point – but it’s not like his team had been better than Barcelona. Far from it, Barça were still streets ahead of Rayo – even without Lionel Messi on the scoresheet. Try as he might, Messi couldn’t quite get the better of Ruben (even if he had the rest of his defense figured out). Free-kicks, shots after mazy dribbles; Ruben was equal to them all. Neymar on the other hand was experiencing the complete opposite.

The Brazilian was beating Ruben with every shot, but couldn’t beat the Rayo defense, and in the 66th minute, he couldn’t beat the post, and was only able to watch in horror as his right-footed effort rebounded away from danger.

Who would have thought that the most clinical player on the field would be Pedro? Oft-criticised, off-form Pedro...perhaps showing signs of a turn-around as he completed his hat-trick on 71 minutes, finishing from close range after a selfless pass from Neymar gifted the Spaniard an open goal.

Gerardo Martino responded to the goal and Barcelona’s growing lead by re-enforcing his midfield, replacing the hat-trick hero with Andrés Iniesta. Maybe the magician would provide Barça with some much-needed stability? Taking up position on the left-hand side of attack, Iniesta’s introduction forced Neymar out to the right – as Martino looked to experiment with a new position for the talented striker.

It nearly paid off too, Neymar created a great chance for Lionel Messi within moments of the switch but once again, Ruben sprung down to his left to deny the four-time Ballon d’Or winner a deserved goal. The Rayo keeper couldn’t keep Barça at bay for long though; a defensive mistake gifted Xavi possession in the final third and even after a quiet performance, the Catalan maestro provided a perfect pass to find Cesc Fàbregas, who in turn picked out the bottom corner of the goal.

Penalty save? Check. Four-goal lead? Check. From afar, this match was basically a repeat of Barcelona’s midweek win over Ajax. With the three point secured, Martino continued his rotations, replacing Neymar with Cristian Tello and bringing Jonathan dos Santos off the bench for a late cameo in place of Xavi.

Next up, Barcelona entertain Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou on Tuesday. The visitors are without a goal in their last three matches, but are sure to provide Martino’s team with a tough test, arguably their toughest of this young La Liga season. Until then, Visca el Barça!

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Barca Blaugranes

You must be a member of Barca Blaugranes to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Barca Blaugranes. You should read them.

Join Barca Blaugranes

You must be a member of Barca Blaugranes to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Barca Blaugranes. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker