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Barcelona finding that complacency is the enemy of progress

Xavi’s side were second best against Rayo

Rayo Vallecano V Fc Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images

If ever a reminder was needed to show Xavi’s players that they are still going to have to work for the league title, the game against Rayo Vallecano was it.

With the possible exception of Ronald Araujo, there wasn’t a single Barcelona player that could hold their head high as they left the Vallecas pitch.

At this level, that type of performance is completely unacceptable.

Rayo Vallecano V Fc Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images

Rayo deserve full credit of course. The way in which they battled and harried for every ball put their more celebrated opponents to shame.

Barca’s stars were second to almost every ball and appeared lacklustre and disinterested in their work which, if nothing else, merely underscores the size of the job that Xavi still has on his hands.

With Real Madrid losing comprehensively against Girona on Tuesday night the chance was there for the Blaugranes to surge even further ahead of Los Blancos, and perhaps it was that which had diverted focus because most of the players certainly weren’t concentrating on the game.

Jules Kounde had arguably his worst match in a Barcelona shirt though he wasn’t the only star who clearly had his mind elsewhere.

Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Just because Barca sit 11 points ahead of Real, that doesn’t mean reeling the Catalans back in is insurmountable. Difficult yes, but not impossible.

After winning all but three of 25 games from the end of October up to the beginning of April, Barca have now won just once in their last five. They’ve also only managed two goals in that time too.

Three out of the next four games are at home but none can be approached in the way the team did against Rayo if they want to get anything out of them.

Pick up the pace again, and the league could be won at home to Real Sociedad on May 21, however, carry on as they did in the Spanish capital on Wednesday evening and the last seven games of the 2022/23 campaign could be a long, drawn out process and not a particularly enjoyable one.

The complacency that has crept into Barca’s game is a real problem.

Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

As was seen against Girona and Getafe recently, teams that really want to fight will always come out on top against those whose players believe they only have to turn up to earn the three points.

We’re not quite at the stage yet where players are playing for their places, but the coach would do well to monitor the body language of his charges over the next few matches to see who is still willing to put sweat on the shirt and who appears to believethat the job has been done already.

Maybe a few unpopular decisions also need to be made in order for the starting XI to rediscover the fire that got them to their current position in the first place.

Something’s got to give.

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