Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs FC Barcelona

There is relative calm in Barcelona today. After a dramatic week with defeat to Real Madrid in La Liga, the Champions League exit against Chelsea followed by the bombshell of Pep Guardiola’s decision not to continue, one might expect the mood to be gloomier.

However, the positive reaction from the Camp Nou crowd after Tuesday’s disappointment and the knowledge that Tito Vilanova will be taking over as first team coach has left the sensation that the club is in a very good position and that we can look forward to continued success following the same philosophies and playing the same type of football. 

Following Guardiola with his 13 trophies in four years will of course be tough. Curiously, if Pep makes it 14 with the Copa del Rey on May 25, then Vilanova will get his first chance for a trophy in the Spanish Supercopa in August, and he will be banned from the touchline for the first leg having received a one-match ban for attacking José Mourinho’s finger with his eyeball. If, as seems likely, Real Madrid win the league title and if he hasn’t slung his hook and gone back to Roman Abramovich, then Mourinho, who can at least be considered to be the one who provoked Tito’s eye, will be banned from both games.

Until Madrid clinch the league it is Barça’s duty to give everything in every game. If we throw them the league this week you can bet your bottom dollar they will lose their last three games just to make us feel worse. Tomorrow we play Rayo Vallecano at 21.30h local time, Guardiola has sixteen first team players available after the injuries to Xavi and Piqué so Montoya, Bartra and Tello again travel with the first team.

With four games left in the league Rayo are just one victory away from relegation safety. However, they have lost their last three and will no doubt be wanting to end that run  sooner rather than later. With coach Jose Ramon Sandoval in charge we can expect an open game as Rayo usually play a high-pressing game. At 34, Raul Tamudo is still knocking in goals, having scored 8 in 28 games since signing for Rayo last summer, though the biggest danger comes from attacking midfielder Michu who has a tally of 15 in the league this season.

Following the jaded look of our second half performance against Chelsea there were calls to rest players with an eye to having everyone at 100% for the Copa del Rey Final. However, I’m sure the tiredness was more mental than physical and I really don’t see the need to rest anybody unless they have an injury. Players who need minutes, such as Ibi Afellay and Jose Manuel Pinto, should of course be given a chance to find some form.

The pressure is off now and unless a player specifically asks for a rest then they should be ready to play. If Leo Messi is up for it he should be given every chance to increase his incredible goal-scoring tally. Our final league game against Betis is on May 13th which gives us 12 days to rest and to prepare for the Copa, which is plenty.

Barça squad vs Rayo: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Montoya, Bartra, Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano, Busquets, Keita, Thiago, Fabregas, Iniesta, Pedro, Cuenca, Alexis, Messi, Tello, Afellay.

Possible starting XI: Pinto; Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano; Thiago, Keita, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Afellay.

My prediction: Rayo 2 Barça 3





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7 Responses to Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs FC Barcelona

  1. thisisspain says:

    “Tito will be banned from the touchline for the first leg having received a one-match ban for attacking José Mourinho’s finger with his eyeball.”
    …………good to see you have not lost your sense of humour!

    It’s pretty simple. You MUST win. In this position, you should be grateful you are playing Rayo (or Getafe)- hopelessly unreliable, inconsistent etc. You’ll either cruise or get turned over badly. I’d hate to call it.

    As a testament to Pep I hope you win your remaining games and not just “give up” which seems to be the prevailing mood. Sir Alex no se rinde….Pep????

  2. barcacentralroger says:

    “Vilanova… received a one-match ban for attacking José Mourinho’s finger with his eyeball… Mourinho, who can at least be considered to be the one who provoked Tito’s eye, will be banned from both games.”

    Pat yourself on the back Nic.

  3. barcacentralroger says:

    BTW, I too am feeling optimistic for the future for Barca, immediate and otherwise. I am pleased for Pep as he didn’t look like he was enjoying it anymore, and Tito is the best person to continue Barca playing the game the Barca way.

  4. barcacentralomer says:

    Loved the comment about Tito attacking Moaninho’s finger with his eyeball.
    Nic while I don’t advocate handing over the title to Real on a platter, realistically I don’t think Real will loosen their grip on La Liga and so I don’t think its worth risking long-term injuries to our starting XI bcos some of them looked burnt out IMO – both physically and mentally. So rather than fielding a B team perhaps it’d be a good idea to thrown in some of the youngsters like Tello,Bartra and Montoya along with the first teamers.

    Btw Nic, there’s a strange satisfaction knowing Moaninho and Co. will not be contesting the CL final…:)

  5. titi186 says:

    I shouted my neighbours awake when I saw Ronaldo miss and Real go out… somewhat helps get over Tuesday !!

    As a final note to Pep I think it said alot about his relationship with the fans that we all clapped him and the team off. I had not slept and travelled from London just to see Barca go out… but I did not feel angry at all. Barca stayed true to who they were and should have won. The barca anthem played and everyone stood and clapped it was a surreal atmosphere considering Barca had just lost a semi final in that matter.

    Here’s to Titi and the rest of the team ! Good luck Pep and thanks for all you did for Barca 🙂

  6. ransae says:

    Reblogged this on Ransae's Blog.

  7. Barca no mersey with any Madrid team. Pep knows how to say Goodbye.
    Highlights on Rayo – Barca:

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