Barcelona host minnows Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou in what looks to be a pretty one-sided fixture. Rayo have been struggling in the Spanish top flight as they sit in the relegation zone, just a point off the bottom.
Looking at the head-to-head stats, out of 35 matches played, Barcelona have won 23, with eight draws and just four wins for Rayo. Therefore, Barcelona have a historical advantage over their opponents but not taking this match seriously would be a big mistake.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the three things Barcelona need to do to beat Rayo Vallecano:
Take advantage of their poor disciplinary record
Rayo have a poor track record in terms of fouls, particularly away from home where they commit slightly more than 16 fouls per game. Their rampant fouling has seen them pick up 66 yellow and five red cards already this season. Moreover, five Rayo players have been sent off in their last five league games against Barcelona, so the track record shows there’s a good chance of Rayo playing with 10 men at some point. Barcelona should take full advantage and try to lure their aggression in dangerous parts of the pitch. Maybe not the penalty spot, but near the goal. It would be obvious to predict who takes the kick and what’s the score thereafter.
Attempt more tackles and apply pressure
Ernesto Valverde may decide to give Arturo Vidal a start as Rayo have a team full of dribblers. With an impressive stat of around 14 successful dribbles per game, tackling efficiently would be a major asset. Barcelona are known to let opponents create chances especially from the wings and Rayo like to play in their own half, so if the Blaugranes tackle more efficiently and apply more pressure, Rayo will crumple and Barcelona are certain to nab the ball straightaway and score.
Take advantage of individual errors
Rayo have conceded 45 goals this season, one less than Levante and have the worst goal difference in the league as of matchweek 26: a sorrowful -17. Lots of the goals have resulted from individual errors and misplaced passes as Rayo struggle against teams applying pressure. They tend to lose possession too often, with around 18 unsuccessful touches (the highest in the league) and 12 counts of dispossession recorded per game. This shows that Rayo suffer from individual errors and Barcelona should take full advantage. If they do there’s nothing to stop them from grabbing all three points.