RAY 2-3 BAR
- After bossing all white jersey teams in Oct, the big red patch in Rayo Vallecano’s white jersey seemed like a traffic red light for Barcelona.
- There is a reason why Spanish teams do well in Europe – for the competition they face back home. Rayo had more touches in Barcelona box in the first half than most bottom table teams can hope to do so vs top teams, in entire match, in other leagues.
- Just basis chances, it should have 2-2 at half time. Suarez finished one, hit the bar once, while Pozo missed one, then equalised.
- Rayo play so high up the pitch, ditto as Barcelona, that whenever the camera was focussing on the middle third of the pitch, you could see all twenty outfield players!
- With both teams squeezing the pitch so much, naturally Barcelona’s midfield passing and control got a lot hampered.
- Second half Rayo continued to boss the midfield; and kept getting chances every six minutes. On 51st min Ter Stegen saved Barca, on 57th min Rayo went ahead, then on 63rd min and 73rd min Rayo missed easy chances to seal the game.
- Phillippe Coutinho, Arthur Melo & Sergio Busquets were way off the mark and the commentators repeatedly kept saying that Arturo Vidal was needed to be on the pitch to hold the ball better. Coutinho and Melo got substituted soon.
- Barcelona had marginally better control after Vidal came in coupled with some Rayo legs tiring, but big chances weren’t getting created. Barca used the first goal formula ie Alba to Suarez to get an equaliser on the 85th min but Rayo keeper Garcia saved. It looked a bad day for the La Liga giants.
- However, a min later Alba passed to false striker Pique who laid it on for Dembele. The Frenchman struck hard for 2-2. Then on the 90th min a brilliant Sergi Roberto long ball to a super alert Luis Suarez and the Uruguayan made it 3-2 signalling a Messi-esque escape.
- Barcelona didn’t play well but are four points ahead in the league and I suspect the Inter Milan game will be easier for the Catalans than this one. Luis Suarez has taken up the Messi responsibility in the great man’s absence and that’s lovely news for Barcelona.