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Xoel Cardenas: Neymar and Bravo lead Barcelona to win, other issues still plague team

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In this column, Xoel Càrdenas gives you his take on FC Barcelona's 5-2 win over Rayo Vallecano. Xoel gives you his take on the match and why despite Barca's win, there are still other struggles plaguing this team right now.

Neymar
Neymar
David Ramos/Getty Images

FC Barcelona got back to winning, as the Blaugrana defeated Rayo Vallecano 5-2 at the Camp Nou on Saturday night.

Neymar had a good shot early on via a free kick, but his shot hit the wall and Rayo goalkeeper Toño was able to pick up the ball. Sergi Roberto had a tremendous pass to find Ivan Rakitic in the 7th minute, but Toño came out and made a great stop on Ivan's shot.

Luis Suarez had a shot to give FCB the lead early thanks to a Toño mistake, but the Rayo goalkeeper made up for his error with a nice toe save on Suarez's shot. Rayo got the scoring started in the 15 minute, as Javi Guerra slotted in the cross into the box by Bebe. For the fourth time this competitive season, Barcelona had to come back to try and earn points.

Neymar tied the match in the 22nd minute, as the Brazilian got the penalty called in his favor just a few minutes after a questionable non-call occurred. Neymar slotted it low to make it 1-1.

Sandro missed a clear shot to give Barcelona the lead in the 25th minute. The kid selfishly took a shot and skied it high, when he should have passed it to Suarez. Neymar with a shot that went just wide in the 28th minute.

Neymar got another penalty called in his favor in the 32nd minute and once again, the kid stepped up and slotted it in to make it 2-1.

Sergi Roberto nearly had the third Barcelona goal in the 41st minute, but a diving Toño saved Sergi's shot from outside the box.

Claudio Bravo got a great save on a Guerra shot early in the second half. Bravo with a double save just a few minutes later, first stopping a Guerra shot then a Ebert shot from close range.

Neymar gave Barcelona the 3-1 lead in the 70th minute, as Suarez's shot was blocked by Toño, and Ney was there to slam it in. Just a minute later, Neymar got his fourth goal, as Suarez fed the Brazilian who tapped the ball into the back of the net. An incredible minute to put the match away.

For the first time in his Barcelona career, Neymar scored four goals in a match.

Suarez got in on the fun in the 77th minute, as Neymar returned the favor and sent a cross into the box and Luisito slapped it in for the fifth Barcelona goal.

Rayo got a goal back late thanks to Javi Jozabed Sanchez, but Barcelona take the points at the Camp Nou.

FT: FC Barcelona 5-2 Rayo Vallecano

Xoel's Take

As we know, Paco Jémez likes his teams to press, and in the first few minutes, Rayo put the pressure on and got a goal out of it. Once again, bad defending by Barcelona. Gerard Pique is still not the Pique that we saw all of last season. Yes, Mr. Shakira has had his moments so far this season, but he's not as sharp as he was in 2014-15. Jeremy Mathieu is what he is, but against Rayo, he wasn't as bad as he usually is. It's still baffling how Marc Bartra isn't starting over the clumsy Frenchman.

Barcelona miss Lionel Messi. Argentina miss Lionel Messi. But just because Leo is still out doesn't mean we, the fans, should give excuses for poor performances by some of the team's players.

I know the injuries have crippled this team. But let's not act like Barcelona don't have any world-class talent remaining to carry this team to a win. It's time we call out players for not performing at a high level so far this season.

I already mentioned Gerard Pique. Marc-Andre ter Stegen has had a bad start to the season. Ivan Rakitic is struggling as well. As far as the forwards, Sandro isn't helping his chances of staying with the club for the long term, with his poor and sometimes selfish decisions when on the attack.

Luis Suarez has been rather inconsistent this season. Yes, he's made important goals against Athletic Club and Bayer Leverkusen. But so far this season, he's been offside too many times and — like most of the Barcelona players — Suarez's finishing has been off.

The finishing has been terrible for Barcelona thus far this 2015-16 season. Too many times already, Barcelona is making some of these opposing goalkeepers look like they are all Oliver Kahn. While there have been some shots on goal that goalkeepers have made tremendous saves on, there have been too many shots by Barcelona that simply have been poor shots and bad decisions. The two main culprits are Suarez and Sandro, with Rakitic not too far behind. Against Rayo, poor finishing led to Rayo being able to take the early 0-1 lead, instead of Barcelona up 2-0.

While Barcelona did get the win and the points, let's not act like all is well with this team. Injuries aside, the team is playing dreadful at defense, Pique and Rakitic aren't playing well, and can Neymar keep playing the Messi role and keep this team winning? I feel good about the Neymar part; still worried about the other part. January will eventually get here and players like Messi, Thomas Vermaelen and Andrés Iniesta will get healthy. But until then, the players have to be made accountable and not be forgiven for not performing well. We don't expect perfection every match, but we do expect better from some of these players. It's their job and I'm sure they're trying, but it's time to get it right.

I'm happy Barcelona won — I always am. But I'm not going to not forget that this team is struggling, overall, nor the fact that players are still not at their best. My hope is that this changes soon because there's only so many times individual performances will be able to lead this team to wins. Despite struggles, the team has enough to find a way to win. I hope when a big challenge comes, like El Clásico, Barcelona isn't once again relying on the individual performance of one or two players to lead them to a win. We've seen Barcelona like that in years past, and for the most part, it hasn't turned out well.

Maybe I just worry a bit too much...or maybe the rest of us just rely on "we won and that's all that matters" a bit too much.

Xoel