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Three talking points from Rayo Vallecano 1-1 Barcelona

The Catalans disappointed again

Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Xavi still can’t beat Rayo

Xavi Hernandez’s struggles against Rayo continued with the Barcelona manager failing once again to take three points off Saturday’s opponents.

That’s now five without a win for Barcelona since Rayo returned to the Spanish top flight in 2021. Rayo have Xavi’s number and there doesn’t seem much he can do about it.

Xavi won’t have been surprised by the way Rayo lined up against Barcelona or the way they played at Vallecas on Saturday afternoon.

Yet the fact that he couldn’t find a way to secure all three points doesn’t reflect well on the coach, particularly when his critics are starting to gather due to a poor run of form.

The Barca boss moaned about the referee after the game, and yes his side probably should have had a penalty late on, but that doesn’t disguise the fact they were far from convincing yet again.

Xavi now faces a crunch run of fixtures, starting in midweek against Porto. The Barca boss called for a change in mentality after the draw but it’ll need more than that to get Barca out of their current malaise.

Another late show

Barcelona needed another late show to rescue a point against Rayo, with Florian Lejeune the late hero for the visitors as he equalised with an own goal.

Leaving it late has been the theme for Barca all season and it was the same story again at Vallecas. Barcelona have now won 15 points in LaLiga this season from goals scored in the last 15 minutes of a game, the highest tally among Europe’s top five league.

It’s a great stat that shows the fighting spirit that Xavi has instilled in his team. However, it’s also a real worry for the Catalans. Titles are not usually won by teams who regularly have to come from behind in matches to snatch points.

Barcelona are also facing a tricky fixture list against teams who may not be quite so willing to let them off the hook if they do go behind again. Atletico Madrid, Girona, Valencia and Almeria are up next in La Liga and those fixtures should tell us plenty more about Xavi’s side.

Should Barca have had two penalties?

Barcelona left Vallecas after feeling aggrieved at not being awarded a penalty. Raphinha was fouled late on and television replays certainly looked as though it was a spot kick.

Xavi agreed and was furious a penalty hadn’t been awarded.

“I’m told I’m looking for excuses, but the foul on Raphinha is a clear penalty,” he said.

“It happened to us in Getafe, in Granada and today. We lost because we weren’t good in the first half, and that’s no excuse, but it’s a clear penalty.”

Footage also emerged after the draw of Robert Lewandowski being hauled to the ground in the penalty area by Florian Lejuene. Again nothing was given.

Barca’s frustration is understandable but Xavi is also right to say he can’t use such incidents as an excuse. The Catalans still don’t seem to have quite recovered from the defeat to Real Madrid but need to get back on track quickly to prevent their season from unravelling further.

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