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Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, La Liga: Team News, Match Preview

Barça kick off the new league season with big hopes needing three points against a good team

FC Barcelona v Pumas UNAM - Joan Gamper Trophy Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano


Competition/Round: 2022-23 La Liga, Matchday 1

Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Jules Koundé, Sergiño Dest, Ez Abde, Álex Collado, Martin Braithwaite, Samuel Umtiti (out)

Rayo Vallecano Outs & Doubts: None

Date/Time: Saturday, August 13, 2022, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Sunday)

Venue: Spotify Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández

VAR: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva

How to watch on TV: ABC (USA), Premier Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Not Available (Spain, Canada), others

How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), Premier Player (UK), others


Following a busy preseason and a wild, club-transforming transfer window that is still not over, Barcelona take the field for the first time this season for a game that matters when they welcome Rayo Vallecano to the Greatest Stadium On Earth, Brought To You By Spotify, for the opening match of the 2022-23 La Liga season.

Because this week was completely dominated by a billion stories regarding the (now mostly completed) registration of players, it’s easy to forget just how good the Blaugrana were in preseason. They were unbeaten in six games and won five of them, mostly in pretty dominant fashion with a breathtaking attack and a much more solid defensive structure compared to last season.

Xavi Hernández made specific requests regarding signings and the new players who got significant playing time looked very comfortable in the coach’s system, and Robert Lewandowski needed just four preseason games to erase any doubts about his ability to fit with his new team and lead the line very effectively.

Barça made great strides on and off the pitch since the end of last season, and expectations are sky high for this one. There is true hope in the fanbase and the players have spoken publicly about a great environment in the dressing room with a deep squad pulling in the same direction and interested in the same thing: winning games and lifting trophies.

This will be a season like no other with a World Cup right in the middle of it, and a busy schedule between now and November will truly test Barça’s depth. Every game will matter in a tight race for the league title. Real Madrid will never go away, and Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid remain quite the formidable force.

Dropping points at home is almost prohibited, and Camp Nou must be a fortress all season long. Rayo Vallecano had a wonderful season and retained all of their best players, and will definitely cause problems to a Barça side still trying to figure itself out with so many changes. This doesn’t promise to be easy, but a strong performance and victory will be an important statement of intent.

This could be a great season, but it has to start with a bang.

Let’s dance.


POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Araujo, Christensen, Eric, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Dembélé, Lewandowski, Raphinha

Rayo Vallecano (4-2-3-1): Dimitrievski; Balliu, Lejeune, Catena, García; Valentín, Comesaña; Isi, Trejo, García; Falcao


PREDICTION

I am beyond excited for this season and way too optimistic based on preseason and how well the new signings fit together, but I’ll try to be sane and go with a reasonable prediction because Rayo have a really good team: 16-2 Barça. Just kidding: 3-0 to the good guys.

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