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La Liga: FC Barcelona 6-1 Rayo Vallecano: Match Review

A recap of Barcelona's sensational 6-1 La Liga victory over Rayo Vallecano, a win that puts the Blaugrana back on the top of the pile in the title race

David Ramos/Getty Images

FC Barcelona turned on the style in this Sunday lunchtime kick-off to brush Rayo Vallecano aside 6-1 at the Camp Nou, picking up the three points they needed to leapfrog Real Madrid and return to the top of La Liga. In a first-half full of chances, Barça were a little wasteful to tell the truth, only entering the interval with a one-goal lead courtesy of Luis Suarez, but went through the gears in the second-half to claim the scoreline their play deserved.

Lionel Messi was the architect, helping himself to a 12 minute second-half hat-trick and an assist for Suarez’ injury-time second/Barça’s sixth after Gerard Piqué had initially doubled our lead; with Alberto Bueno’s penalty and Dani Alves’ red card the only dampeners on what had been an incredible performance from the hosts.


Rayo Vallecano




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Knowing that a win would send his side back to the top of La Liga, Luis Enrique named a strong starting line-up for this early Sunday kick-off against Rayo Vallecano, with little in the way of surprises. Jeremy Mathieu replaced Sergio Busquets, enabling Javier Mascherano to push forward into midfield, where he was joined by a familiar partnership: Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, who started together for just the fourth time this season.

Pedro replaced the suspended Neymar in the Barça frontline and the scene was set: the weather was beautiful, the atmosphere was jovial; could Barcelona keep the good times rolling and move back to the top of La Liga with a win?


As anticipated, both sides looked to establish themselves early on in this encounter, each keen to gain an early grip in the possession battle. To their credit, Rayo Vallecano probably edged that battle in the opening stages at least, with both sides pressing high and keeping a high defensive line. For Rayo, this meant that their forwards were getting caught offside while Barça were forcing Cristian Alvarez into action – one particular highlight was Andrés Iniesta’s fantastic defense-splitting pass that prompted an equally impressive piece of sweeper-keeping from the Argentine.

And therein lied Rayo Vallecano’s problem: they were trying to play an offside trap, but between the vision of the Xavi-Iniesta midfield and the movement of the Blaugrana frontline, Barça were simply too clever to be caught out. One pass was all it took, and we were through on goal; you don’t need me to tell you what happens next with this frontline...

Case in point: a throw-in for Rayo Vallecano in the fifth minute is headed on to Jeremy Mathieu, but Tito, the Rayo right-back is slow to move forward and get in line with his colleagues after taking the throw. Mathieu plays it forward to Xavi and the Catalan helps it on with a first-time volley to split the defense and find Luis Suarez. One-on-one with Alvarez, Suarez made no mistake – exhibiting all the confidence of a striker playing at the top of his game to stab the ball home at the near-post.

Five minutes on the clock and Barça had their breakthrough.

Minutes later, they could and perhaps should have doubled their lead. Another fine through ball sprung the Rayo offside trap and again Suarez was the beneficiary. With Alvarez bearing down, Suarez elected to take the ball round the Rayo keeper and while the angle wasn’t entirely impossible for a player of his calibre, the Uruguayan opted for the selfless route. Pedro was in space in the middle for a tap-in, but somewhat surprisingly the pass from Suarez was off and Rayo were able to clear the danger.

The visitors just couldn’t deal with Suarez; a long throw-in for Barça was directed towards the former Liverpool striker and after backing into Abdoulaye Ba, Suarez allowed the ball to fly over his head and turned past the Senegalese centre-half. It was a fantastic piece of movement and once again meant that Suarez was through on goal. Ba was on the chase and just as Suarez was about to pull the trigger, the Rayo centre-half looked to make contact.

Suarez went to ground and it seemed like a clear penalty, yet the referee Gil Manzano was unmoved. UEFAlona and whatnot after all.

Still, it wasn’t to matter, we were in the mood and creating chances at will against a porous Rayo backline; Jordi Alba’s cutback could have been converted by a whole host of Blaugrana players, yet it ultimately fell to Dani Alves who could only force a good block with his left-footed effort. Moments later, Pedro led a one-man counter-attack that could have probably amounted to more – all this with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock.

Rayo desperately needed to slow the pace of this game down. At present, they couldn’t handle Barcelona and it was only a matter of time before Barça found their second, third and fourth goals of the evening – such was the Blaugrana’s dominance in the early stages of the match. And to think, all this action and we were yet to really mention Lionel Messi’s really wasn’t looking great for Paco Jemez and his team.

Xavi was having a field day in midfield; every pass he played seemed to lead to a chance on goal – the latest was a lofted-pass over the Rayo defense to find Pedro who raced through and clear of the chasing pack. Unfortunately though, Pedro’s control was lacking and the ball got somewhat caught under his feet enabling Rayo to catch up and place him under just enough pressure at the vital moment. Off-balance, Pedro’s effort was easily kept out by Alvarez.

Nonetheless, it was an encouraging sign – the pattern of the match wasn’t changing and as such all of the weaknesses we had exposed in the Rayo backline were still evident, still there to be exploited. Perhaps the chances weren’t as forthcoming now, but every now and again we were threatening to double our advantage.

Having troubled the Rayo defense all game long with his play as a centre-forward, Suarez turned creator for the next chance – by the time the ball had got to the Uruguayan it appeared as though the counter-attack had been wasted, yet in a moment of brilliance, Suarez created a chance out of nothing. Hesitating in possession, Suarez assessed his options and decided to cheekily lift a chipped pass over the backline for Lionel Messi to chase. The Argentine had been quiet in the opening half-hour, but with a chance to get on the scoresheet he burst into life and got to the ball first, attempting to continue the trend and chip Alvarez.

Indeed he did loft the ball over his compatriot, but his direction was just off and his shot bounced agonisingly wide of the mark. Sure, we were in control, but it would have been nice to get that two-goal cushion before the break, because at 1-0, this match was far from over.


What would Luis Enrique have said to his players at half-time? On the one hand, his side had the lead and had created a plethora of chances but on the other, they should have been two, three of maybe even four goals to the good by this stage. No overall improvement was necessary at this stage, just a little more ruthlessness in front of goal and this game would be over.

Step forward...Gerard Piqué!

In all seriousness, he had actually threatened it moments after the restart, nearly juggling the ball free in the area after a cross in – but while he didn’t get a chance to get a shot away then, he would just moments later. After Rayo cleared the danger for a corner kick, Barça went for one from the training ground. The target? Not Piqué, not Mathieu, but Dani Alves on a bending run and it very nearly worked. Alves’ looping header beat Alvarez and rattled the woodwork, with Gerard Piqué on hand to bury the rebound from a couple of yards out for his sixth of the season.

Advantage: doubled. Three points: secured?

Certainly it seemed that way. Rayo were playing well, but scoring twice at the Camp Nou while keeping the Blaugrana out for the rest of the game? Near impossible – indeed it seemed as though damage limitation would be the best option. Xavi again was at the forefront, playing in Andrés Iniesta on the overlap down the left and his shot was well-saved by Alvarez. The ensuing loose ball was cleared for a corner, and once again, Barça took advantage.

The corner was played short this time and worked out to the edge of the box – where it was then played in to the back-post and Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan was brought down and after deliberating with his assistant, the referee pointed to the spot. The offender, Tito, was shown a second yellow card and this afternoon was going from bad to worse for Rayo Vallecano.

Up steps Lionel Messi and it seemed as though his chequered record from the spot would continue as his relatively poor effort was easily saved by Alvarez, only for the referee to signal for a retake for encroachment. An unusual call, but Messi was more than happy to oblige and went for the opposite corner, finding the back of the net with a much-improved effort.

Now this game really was over, and so Jordi Alba swiftly picked up a yellow card, ruling him out of next weekend’s match against Eibar, conveniently affording him a rest before the return leg against Manchester City and of course wiping his slate clean before El Clasico in a fortnight.

On a yellow card, Javier Mascherano was withdrawn for Ivan Rakitić, who would again spend some time in a nominal role as pivote, just as he did in the final stages against Villarreal. A different look in midfield, but same old Barcelona: the chances kept coming and around the hour mark we helped ourselves to a fourth. A cross in from Jordi Alba was attacked well by Lionel Messi, but Rayo managed to temporarily clear the danger, albeit only as far as Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan went for goal and forced a good save from Alvarez with a powerful effort, and the rebound was duly converted into an open goal by the instinctive Messi for the Argentine to complete his brace. It was all too easy, and one couldn’t help but feel a twinge of remorse for Rayo Vallecano, who never really deserve to lose by such humbling margins.

Then again, Paco Jemez said before the match that he didn’t care about the final margin of defeat, just as long as his side had put in a good game – and they had done just that.

With the fourth goal in the bag, Luis Enique made his second change of the night, also in midfield, as Andrés Iniesta was withdrawn for Rafinha Alcântara. Another new look midfield, but same old Barça. More chances, more goals – again for Lionel Messi.

This one wrapped up his 24th La Liga hat-trick; from Xavi to Rakitić to Rafinha to Pedro, who played in a teasing low cross for Messi to control, skip past a challenge, swerve past the keeper and slot the ball into the empty net to tie Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Pichichi. Another incredible goal in what had been a superlative Barcelona performance. We weren’t just heading back to the top of La Liga – we were doing it in style.

Cue our final change of the evening; off went Jordi Alba to be replaced by Adriano Correia who immediately involved himself to sting Alvarez’ palms with a vicious effort from the left-flank. There was to be no respite from the Blaugrana – and in spectacular fashion Dani Alves nearly added a sixth. Trying his luck from long-range doesn’t always go to plan for Alves, but on this occasion he came so close to a real golazo, hitting the wrong side of the roof of the net with a dipping effort from all of 30 yards.

As it turned out, that would really sum up Alves’ evening; just unlucky. At the other end, his crucial intervention appeared to have denied Alberto Bueno a clear goalscoring opportunity, yet the referee whistled and pointed to the spot. In real-time, it seemed as though Alves had won the ball in a clean challenge – and the replays suggested the same, but having pointed to the spot, the referee had no choice but to show Alves a straight red card, much to the Brazilian’s frustration.

Bueno stepped up to take the penalty amidst a chorus of whistles from the Camp Nou crowd, but kept his composure well to send Claudio Bravo the wrong way.

By way of a response, Barça switched to a three=-man backline – Adriano on the right, Piqué in the centre with Mathieu on the left – and further forward, we continued to create chances. Suarez was denied at point-blank range by Alvarez, while a promising counter-attack being led by Messi was cynically stopped by Aquino for a yellow card.

Suarez then raced through on goal and selflessly squared the ball to Messi for what should have been a tap-in, but the pass was just a little too heavy for Messi to convert. On another day, we really could have reached double digits, but all that mattered in this fixture was the three points. and heck, there was still time for one more anyway as Xavi and Messi combined to create an injury-time sixth for Barça, and a second for the sensational Luis Suarez.

Next up, Barcelona travel to La Liga’s smallest ground to face the league’s out-of-form side, SD Eibar who have lost seven matches in succession. Until then, Visca el Barça!

Roll Call Info
Total comments 549
Total commenters 44
Commenter list A.J.Khan, Abdul95, Abohabiba, Anders Thomassen, AngelCul1, Anirudh_Kul, AzBlaug, Barca Boy, Bostjan Cernensek, CoolCulé, Cule4life, Delano Heerkens, DudeBV, FCBMo, FCB_Z8, GoBarca, Inder Methil, LaSenyera, LocoZZZ, LotusV3, Petter Premberg, Ragnar_Lothbrok, Rajesh1101s, Richzorz, Sarthak Kumar, Som-i-Serem, Steven Cordero, StoichkovTheDagger, Swn.Culé, Tokjee, abdulla0207, barca96, cule-since-1992, defeaning_silence, diwa, godnkls, khanhung.tran, luck-ycoltsfan19, oddsbodiSkins, pranaydhone, shirishstha, shubham2806, tilak, uday kakoti
Story URLs
# Commenter # Comments
1 luck-ycoltsfan19 65
2 Bostjan Cernensek 65
3 Delano Heerkens 56
4 Abohabiba 33
5 Steven Cordero 27
6 LotusV3 26
7 shubham2806 25
8 Anders Thomassen 23
9 Inder Methil 22
10 khanhung.tran 20
11 AngelCul1 18
12 DudeBV 15
13 Ragnar_Lothbrok 12
14 LocoZZZ 12
15 cule-since-1992 11
16 abdulla0207 11
17 Swn.Culé 10
18 oddsbodiSkins 8
19 Som-i-Serem 8
20 FCB_Z8 7
21 shirishstha 7
22 Richzorz 7
23 LaSenyera 6
24 AzBlaug 6
25 pranaydhone 6
26 FCBMo 5
27 diwa 4
28 barca96 4
29 Rajesh1101s 4
30 Anirudh_Kul 4
31 uday kakoti 3
32 Petter Premberg 2
33 Abdul95 2
34 Cule4life 2
35 Tokjee 2
36 Barca Boy 2
37 defeaning_silence 2
38 A.J.Khan 1
39 CoolCulé 1
40 StoichkovTheDagger 1
41 tilak 1
42 GoBarca 1
43 Sarthak Kumar 1
44 godnkls 1

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