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Three things we learned from Barcelona’s win over Rayo Vallecano

The champions remain seven points clear

FC Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Arturo Vidal is getting better and better at Barcelona

Arturo Vidal was handed a start in midfield as Ivan Rakitic got some rest against Rayo Vallecano and produced a fine performance.

In fact the Chilean hit new heights in his Barcelona career:

His display also drew plaudits from Ernesto Valverde who said he kept the team going.

“He played a great game in many ways,” he said.

”He has an incredible heart, he’s always close to the penalty area – his own and the opposition’s – and he has a very high recovery rate.

”Both he and [Sergio] Busquets kept us going at certain times.”

Source | Goal

Vidal’s energy and heart were needed against Rayo, and he’s becoming an increasingly important part of the squad as the season progresses.

Umtiti gives Valverde a selection headache

Samuel Umtiti started in defence alongside Gerard Pique with Clement Lenglet suspended and produced a strong display against Rayo Vallecano.

The French defender is carefully making his return to action after a long spell out with knee trouble and looked composed, nearly scored with a header, and will have his impressed his boss.

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Indeed his performance will have given Valverde plenty to ponder ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 second leg against Lyon.

Of course Umtiti will be desperate to play against his former side, particularly after sitting out the first leg, but so will Lenglet who has filled in well for Umtiti this season.

Valverde therefore has a tough decision to make especially as the tie is still finely poised at 0-0, and an away goal for the visitors will make Barcelona’s task even tougher.

Dembele injury comes at a bad time

Ousmane Dembele started on the bench against Rayo which looked a sure sign he was being kept in reserve for the visit of Lyon on Wednesday.

The French forward played the second half after coming on for Arthur, but the club announced after the match he’s picked up a niggle and is now a doubt for Lyon.

The news is a big blow and Barcelona will hope he will be fit enough to play some part as Valverde’s men look to secure a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

If not then Valverde has decisions to make. Philippe Coutinho should be the most likely option but is badly out of form, Malcom is perhaps next on the list but does Valverde trust him to start such a key game?

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