FC Barcelona stumbles on Rayo Vallecano for its first match in La Liga

FC Barcelona was held in check this Saturday by Rayo Vallecano (0-0) for its first Championship match this season. Xavi’s players were unable to get rid of the compact defense of Madrid’s Rayo, who had chances to carry out the hold-up. Despite the presence on the Barça side of Lewandowski, Raphinha, Dembele, Aubameyang, Ansu Fati, and Falcao for Rayo, the match ended in a goalless draw.

The match: a Barça that lacks rhythm

Xavi’s side were true to their playing identity from the first minutes of the game. Barcelona monopolized the ball with possession over 67%. At the start of the match, Ousmane Dembélé launched Robert Lewandowski who concluded with a stung ball, before being flagged offside (12th). In the 21st minute, Dembélé was served on the right side before fixing Ivan Balliu and sliding to Raphinha at the entrance to the area, but the Brazilian’s shot went over. The Blaugranas moved into the Madrid side in the first half. Dembélé, again, went inside before serving Pedri who saw his shot pass just next to Dimitrievski’s left post.

Rayo Vallecano came close to the hold-up just before half-time. Launched deep on the left side, Alvaro eliminated Araujo with a hook behind the leg and appeared alone against Ter Stegen, but it was the German who won the face-to-face (45th). Both teams were able to create chances in the second half. On a pass from Pathé Ciss, Sergio Camello is found in the box. Embarrassed by the defense of Christensen, he hooked Ter Stegen without eliminating him and attempted a stung ball, off target (52nd).

Barça kept their foot on the ball without having packed the rhythm of the meeting. Busquets woke Camp Nou with a shot from 25 meters, deflected by Dimitrievski for a corner (69th). Entering the game, Aubameyang managed to deceive the Rayo goalkeeper but his shot was saved on his line by Alejandro Catena (85th).

At the end of the match, both teams thought they would score the winning goal. Launched in depth, Franck Kessié gave back for Ansu Fati whose cross shot finished in the goal of Dimitrievski, but the Ivorian was offside (88th). Then Radamel Falcao for Rayo Vallecano, in the fifth minute of added time, scored by taking the ball back following a save from Ter Stegen, but the Colombian was also offside (0-0, 90th + 5).

The evening of FC Barcelona ends on a new false note, the expulsion of Sergio Busquets sanctioned by a second yellow card for an elbow on Falcao. The Catalans will have to do better next Sunday on the lawn of Real Sociedad (10 p.m.).

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It’s the sixth time in their history that FC Barcelona have drawn 0-0 in their first game of the season in La Liga, the second time at home since 1968 and a 0-0 against Real Sociedad.

Player: Ousmane Dembele

He’s behind the majority of actions at the Blaugrana side. It was he who launched Lewandowski on his goal disallowed for offside (12th). It is also he who, twice, backs Raphinha then Pedri in the first period. He could have opened the scoring on several occasions, but his shots were often crushed too much. An announced time leaving this summer, he started the meeting in was (too) combative, even taking a yellow from the 14th minute. He is one of the few Barcelonans to have been hard-hitting one-on-one.

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