MX23RW : Sunday, December 5 12:58:56| >> :60:3468:3468:
Oct 27, 2021 at 6pm UK at Estadio Teresa Rivero
Rayo VallecanoRayo Vallecano
Falcao (30')
Trejo (24'), Saveljich (83')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Coutinho (52'), Pique (66')

Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's La Liga clash between Rayo Vallecano and Barcelona, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Sitting ahead of their upcoming opponents in the La Liga rankings, Rayo Vallecano play host to Barcelona on Wednesday evening.

The hosts' efforts against Real Betis were in vain during a 3-2 defeat at the weekend, while Ronald Koeman's men lost El Clasico to Real Madrid on their own turf.

Match preview

Andoni Iraola, now in charge of Rayo Vallecano, pictured in May 2020© Reuters

Despite fighting back from two goals down to seemingly rescue a point against Real Betis - with Randy Nteka and Alvaro Garcia finding the back of the net - Willian Jose's penalty 15 minutes from time condemned Vallecano to their second defeat from three La Liga fixtures at the weekend.

Ivan Balliu was the guilty party as he gave away the penalty which led to Jose's winner - the third spot-kick he has conceded this season - but Andoni Iraola refused to blame his right-back for Sunday's defeat as Vallecano seek to bounce back immediately in midweek.

While they came up short in gameweek 10, Vallecano's eye-catching start to the new season sees them occupy seventh spot in the rankings with 16 points cleaned from a possible 30, one ahead of Barcelona having played a game more.

Furthermore, only Real Madrid (24) have amassed more goals than Vallecano (17) so far this term in La Liga, and with the hosts welcoming Barca to the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas on a four-game winning streak at home, Barcelona can hardly be regarded as the favourites this week.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman on October 24, 2021© Reuters

Sergio Aguero's first goal in Catalan colours only served as a thin silver lining during another dark day for Koeman at Barcelona, as La Blaugrana were outgunned at home to Real Madrid in a 2-1 El Clasico defeat on Sunday afternoon.

David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez's strikes had already put the tie to bed before Aguero's consolation in the seventh minute of injury time, although Koeman's job is still thought to be safe for the time being - even with that defeat representing Barca's third loss from five in all tournaments.

Koeman's side still boast a game in hand over several sides above them in the table, but a ninth-placed ranking is simply unacceptable for a club of the Catalans' calibre, although last weekend's 3-1 win over Valencia did at least lift the spirits somewhat.

However, Barcelona are yet to win on the road since the 2021-22 La Liga season kicked off and have only managed to chalk up one goal in that disappointing period - not exactly a confidence-boosting record before visiting home specialists Vallecano.

On a more positive note, the Catalan giants have come up trumps in their last 14 contests with Vallecano in all tournaments - scoring at least two goals on each occasion - with the most recent contest seeing Barca win 2-1 in the Copa del Rey back in January.

Rayo Vallecano La Liga form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Barcelona La Liga form:
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Barcelona form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong pictured in January 2021© Reuters

Vallecano winger Martin Merquelanz - on loan from Real Sociedad - is expected to be the hosts' only absentee this week, with the 26-year-old still recovering from a serious knee injury.

Balliu is unlikely to lose his spot in the side despite giving away the game-winning penalty last time out, but Esteban Saveljich will aim to return to the rearguard over Nikola Maras.

Pathe Ciss and Mario Hernandez's spots are both at risk after half-time withdrawals against Betis, while joint-top scorer Radamel Falcao will also eye a return to the first XI here.

Meanwhile, Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been ruled out for up to two weeks with a hamstring strain sustained in El Clasico, joining Pedri, Martin Braithwaite and Ronald Araujo in the treatment room.

Ousmane Dembele took part in training on Monday morning but will not be involved, while Ansu Fati should be fine to go again despite an injury scare at the weekend, although maybe not from the first whistle.

Fati's possible benching would open up a spot for Aguero to make his first start should he be deemed fit enough, while Sergi Roberto ought to fill the void left by De Jong's absence in midfield.

Rayo Vallecano possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; Balliu, Saveljich, Catena, F. Garcia; Lopez, Comesana; Palazon, Trejo, A. Garcia; Nteka

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Pique, Garcia, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Gavi; Dest, Aguero, Depay

SM words green background

We say: Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Barcelona

Despite their remarkable winning streak in this fixture, Barcelona's dismal away form coupled with Vallecano's strong home displays should make for a much closer encounter than history would suggest.

One has to wonder what failure to win would do for Koeman's future in the hotseat, but with the possible added attacking threat of Aguero and Dembele, we expect La Blaugrana to take all three points home, although it will not be a cakewalk for the Catalans.

Top tip

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Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman on October 24, 2021
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Barca 'will not sack Koeman after Clasico defeat'
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1Real Madrid16123137152239
3Real Betis169342618830
4Atletico MadridAtletico1585227161129
5Real Sociedad168531913629
6Rayo Vallecano157352316724
8Athletic Bilbao154831311220
14Celta Vigo154471619-316

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