Barca had a unique opportunity against Rayo Vallecano.
Win and you increase your lead atop La Liga to 14 points. Draw and you increase it but only to 12 points. Lose, and well, you’ll be stuck with the same 11 point gap and a lot of questions after.
How did Barca fare?
Let’s check it out.
The first half was nothing short of a disaster for Barca.
Rayo Vallecano came out with a lot of energy, that then transferred to their pressing and work rate both in the attack and in their defense.
This energy left Barca a little confused, as their own energy didn’t match up with Vallecano’s. But this was the opening portion of the game, where major changes in tactics and energy can wear off as the time ticks away.
So luckily for Barca, there was a little bit of optimism on their side. However, as the first half went on, Barca couldn’t find their footing against Vallecano. There were too many lapses defensively, too little creativity and work rate in the attack, it was like you were watching a team that simply felt like they were too good to be on the pitch.
When you work with that attitude with so little energy and passion however, you’re bound to get burned. And when you get burned away from home — especially against a club that loves to play their heart out on their home grass — it’s going to be hard to get back into the groove of things.
Because after Alvaro Garcia scored in the 19th minute to open the scoring, Barca just couldn’t connect well in all phases on the pitch.
There was a lifeline in the 42nd minute, when it appeared Robert Lewandowski had finally ended his woeful stretch of form. But the celebrations were cut short as it was determined Lewandowski was offsides before the goal was scored.
Once this conclusion was reached, halftime arrive and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Barca.
They looked sluggish, their play was sloppy, and the simplest of things appeared more difficult than ever for Xavi’s squad. But a halftime cooldown can solve those things and put a team back in gear in time for the second half.
At least that was the hope.
But as we saw in the second half, the usual 15 minute break did nothing to bring Barca back from the deep dark depths of the abyss.
The second half was more of the same for Barca.
Although it looked like there was some intent from Barca’s starting eleven to play with more intensity, fire, and excellence, the results didn’t come.
The fruit of Barca’s failure was born early on in the second half, when Real Madrid bound defender Fran Garcia scored to make Vallecano’s lead increase to two.
This after a brutal rebound from Frenkie De Jong trying to clear/pass the ball, then the ball bouncing perfectly for Garcia to run through it and slide his finish past Ter Stegen.
Barca tried to regain composure after this setback, and they did so briefly due to a Lewandowski goal late into the second half, but the poor play was still far too much for Barca to overcome.
2-1 was the final tally, as Barca failed to extend their lead at the top of La Liga once again.
Awful, poor, disgusting, I could go on and on with the words to describe the showing today from Barca. This team played with a cocky attitude that compromised their ability on the field, which shouldn’t be happening at this point in the season.
The league isn’t won yet, it won’t be won until this squad lifts the trophy. That might sound basic, but it’s the primary baseline for the expectations for this club right now.
Such arrogance, I tell you it makes my blood boil watching.
Here’s to Xavi reigning the squad back in and making them realize the badge they play for isn’t some flimsy one without meaning and history. When you play for Barca, you carry a global brand on your shirt.
If you can’t handle that, then there’s no need for anyone who’s struggling with it, to play for Barca.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be on Saturday evening, when they’ll welcome Real Betis to the Spotify Camp Nou.
See you all then!