The international break is over, which means more football from Barca.
This time, they go to Rayo in hopes of searching for a win away at Rayo for the first time in what seems like ages. To make matters worse, Barca is coming off a recent match form that dipped into horrid levels not seen during the Xavi era.
What did Xavi’s men have in store with all the noise surrounding their lack of recent success?
Let’s find out.
The first half saw Barca weather Rayo’s storm.
Rayo is a team that plays with a lot of pace and puts on a lot of pressure. They want to get in and out of their actions quickly in possession, which if done correctly, can lead to some quick danger sequences.
Early on, Barca found a way to limit those, as they carefully held on to possession while avoiding any instances of lagging behind while tracking back. It was a prettier defensive display than previous matches, a welcome sight from the previous head scratchers defensively.
Attacking wise, there was much better build up play from Barca. More fluid passing sequences, better execution through the middle of the pitch, and more insightful passes made in the attacking phase.
The only thing that was lacking was Barca’s aggressiveness in front of goal, but even with that you’d expect Barca to figure it out eventually and take control of the match right?
Barca goes behind
Per usual, Barca found a way to concede a silly goal against the run of play.
Well in this case, the goal wasn’t really silly per say, but instead it was just a matter of very bad luck and opposition excellence. All we saw was a blocked shot being rebounded back to Unai Lopez, before he unleashed an insane long distance shot that slid right past the hands of Iñaki Peña.
This goal was one where you couldn’t really blame someone.
It was just a moment of supreme brilliance from Lopez, concluding with a goal you’ll never see on a weekly basis. Maybe if Peña got up a bit quicker after reacting to the blocked shot, maybe he would’ve had a better shot at saving that shot.
But that’s more nitpicking than concrete criticism, so there’s no point in all honesty.
With that goal, we gradually moved towards halftime with Barca still down 1-0. There was a lot to like from Barca, but there simply wasn’t enough in terms of ruthless behavior in the final third.
Barca needed more aggression, they needed to be more concise in front of goal. Luckily there was another set of 45 minutes for that to happen, but would it happen was the question.
In the second frame, there was more aggression from Barca in the attacking phase.
Multiple players were adamant on finding different shots from different angles and distances, not just relying on the loads of link up play and safe actions we’ve seen recently.
The results were fine, but none of them ended in goals. The only one that really came close was Raphinha’s blazing left footed shot that bounced off the post in the 76th minute and the ensuing chaos that came from the rebound. But that action led to no goal either.
However just 6 minutes later, Barca found a breakthrough courtesy of some promising play.
Rayo helps Barca draw level
We saw Iñigo Martinez spot a run by Alejandro Balde, then lofting a beautiful pass into the dribbling pocket of Balde. Balde then spotted a streaking Robert Lewandowski, before hurling in a cross towards the Polish star. The end result wasn’t more so a pretty goal by Lewandowski, as it was a Rayo defender that knocked the goal in.
But it was a goal in the end, something Barca desperately needed.
After this goal, there was some optimism in terms of Barca being able to find a potential winner, based off the form we had seen earlier. But that wasn’t to be, as Barca dropped another 2 points courtesy of a 1-1 draw.
Same stuff, different day from Barca.
In the past, we’ve seen Barca drop points due to bad form. Other times, we’ve seen Barca drop points due to wasteful actions in front of goal. Today was a part of the latter.
Barca controlled the game in the first half and second, but they still couldn’t net a goal of their own. It’s a common theme that has wrapped around Barca for the last few months, putting their hopes in thin ice in the process.
This problem isn’t ending until Barca find better form from their attackers or until they bring in better options (Vitor Roque). Until then, Barca has to live with the beds they make, unless they find some better form that is.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match is on Tuesday night against Porto, their 5th game in the UCL group stage and a very crucial one.
See you then!
I’ve been a big time Barca fan since I was 14 years old. I love the club, the history, and the tradition that the club has built over its prestigious history. Forca Barca!