FC Barcelona (1st, 60pts) vs Rayo Vallecano (19th, 23pts)
Competition/Round: 2018-19 La Liga, Matchday 27
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Clément Lenglet, Thomas Vermaelen, Rafinha, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Jean-Clair Todibo (out)
Rayo Outs & Doubts: Gorka Elustondo, Abdoulaye Ba (out)
Date/Time: Saturday, March 9, 2019, 6.30pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 5.30pm GMT (UK), 12.30pm ET, 9.30am PT (USA), 11pm IST (India)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Mario Melero López
How to Watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA, Canada, Spain), Eleven Sports 1 (UK), SONY TEN 2 (India), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), others
How to Stream: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA, Canada, Spain), others
Following a pretty much meaningless loss to Girona in the Catalan Super Cup in midweek (seriously, did anyone really care about the trophy? I was just really happy to see the kids playing), a full-strength and rested Barcelona return to real action on Saturday when they welcome Rayo Vallecano to Camp Nou for a big La Liga match for both sides.
Rayo really need some good news from this one: they’ve lost five in a row, are in the relegation zone and just don’t look good at all lately, although their defense has kept them in every game in the last month. The attack is the problem right now, but Rayo always play Barça really well and were actually up 2-1 with three minutes go the first time these two met this season. The Blaugrana came back and scored two goals in two and a half minutes to win that game, but Rayo can be at least a little confident they can cause similar problems at the Greatest Stadium on Earth.
Ernesto Valverde and his men certainly don’t want a repeat of that nail-biter last Novemeber, and the fact that Atlético Madrid play a relatively easy home game against Leganés before Barça this weekend will give the leaders extra motivation to win and stay seven points clear at the top of the table.
Let’s do this, boys. You’re too good to suffer against Rayo again.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Murillo, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suárez, Dembélé
Rayo (5-4-1): Dimitrievski; Advíncula, Amat, Gálvez, Velázquez, Moreno; Embarba, Comesana, Suárez, Trejo; De Tomás
I’m slightly nervous about this game just because we took the first game against Rayo for granted and almost lost, but I don’t think it’ll happen again: 3-0 Barça.