Ever since the fixture list was released back in the summer, I've been looking forward to this game more than perhaps any other -- well, at least with the exception of the two Clasicos. Maybe it's because I decided early on that I would travel to the Camp Nou to catch it live, but even leaving that aside, it's because it's one of the truest "football" matches on the calendar. Two expansive, adventurous sides going one on one, trying not to simply defeat the other, but outplay them.
No matter the final result tonight, we can be sure that the victors will have earned the three points and in the process, they'll probably treat us to a football masterclass too. That's why I love this fixture, and can't wait for kick off to roll around.
From a Blaugrana perspective, this is probably the ideal match to have after an international break, because Rayo won't just arrive to defend for a point -- that'll create more space and more opportunities to score before and/or after the fatigue and disruptive nature of the international sets in and/or wears off. On the other hand, without Lionel Messi, each match is being approached with a sense of apprehension; I know we can and probably will win tonight, but there's a nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, Rayo could compound our misery.
Losing to Celta Vigo was a wake-up call, the defeat to Sevilla was a kick in the teeth -- but a loss tonight could be catastrophic. Look for Luis Enrique to rotate around his stars, as he navigates the pressure of picking up the win with a midweek trip to Belarus.
How do you see this one going Culés? Predict the score by commenting with your prediction below. Best of luck!