Barcelona will finish another weekend as the leaders of La Liga thanks to a 3-2 comeback victory over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday night in Madrid. The Blaugrana got an early lead, let it slip away but scored two very late goals to ensure three big points. The performance was terrible, but the comeback was spectacular.
The game started with Barça establishing themselves as the dominant force on the pitch, controlling possession and looking dangerous in attack. They got a goal for their efforts just 10 minutes in, thanks to a spectacular long ball from Ivan Rakitic, a great assist by Jordi Alba, and a nice finish from Luis Suárez.
Having the early lead and playing well against a poor defensive team, Barça looked poise to increase the pressure and score a couple more goals to kill the game quickly. Instead, the team inexplicably dropped back into a very defensive shape and started to absorb pressure from a team that didn’t have a lot to offer, but Rayo accepted the invitation and made the Barça defense suffer.
Barça’s strange plan backfired when José Pozo pulled off a great strike from the edge of the box that hit the post before going in, with no chance for Ter Stegen. And at halftime, what could have been a comfortable lead became a tough match to win in the second half.
Barça looked more interested in attacking in the early minutes of the second half, but they were also wide open at the back and Rayo looked dangerous on the counter. And it was one of those counters that gave them a second goal: De Tomás headed a cross against the post, and substitute Álvaro García scored with his first touch to give his team a shocking 2-1 lead.
Barça had 30 minutes to find two goals and win the match, and Ernesto Valverde subbed on Ousmane Dembélé to add a more dynamic option to the attack. Arturo Vidal and Munir also came on to make the team more direct and mobile in the final third, and the Blaugrana were really going for it.
Unfortunately, as much as they wanted to score, they just couldn’t. There was zero creativity in the team, with Dembélé being the only one able to come up with a few dangerous crosses that didn’t really trouble Rayo’s defense. As we reached the final 10 minutes, the home side were actually comfortably in the lead as Barça had no threat going forward.
Desperation can do wonders sometimes, though, and when Barça just started launching hopeful balls into the box, they finally found a goal: Jordi Alba with a long one, Gerard Piqué with the knockdown, and Dembélé with a sensational finish on the half-volley. There was still time for the winner, and it came with a great cross from Sergi Roberto and another beautiful half-volley, this time from Luis Suárez.
Rayo tried to equalize again, but Barça kept the ball in the final minutes and secured the three points with the final whistle. These could be three giant points in the title race, so regardless of how bad the team played, the comeback is really impressive. Well done, boys. Please let them attack next time, Valverde. Please.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur (Vidal); Rafinha (Dembélé), Suárez, Coutinho (Munir)
Goals: Suárez (10’, 90’), Dembélé (87’)
Rayo: García; Advíncula, Gálvez (Velázquez), Amat, Moreno; Comesana; Embarba, Trejo (Álvaro), Imbula, Pozo; De Tomás (Alegría)
Goals: Pozo (35’), Álvaro (57’)