Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano: Three things that will shape La Liga game

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Barcelona still sit just one point off of the top of the La Liga table despite a chastening 4-1 defeat at Celta Vigo and another poor away performance resulting in a 2-1 reverse at Sevilla.

With so many players out through injury, the Catalans are limping towards the finish line of their FIFA transfer ban.

Their strength in depth has been cruelly exposed and Luis Enrique's side still have two and a half months to survive before Arda Turan, Aleix Vidal and any other additions can join the party.


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Fortunately for the Blaugrana, they now have a run of games that are winnable fixtures, starting at home to Rayo Vallecano.

Let's take a look at three things that could shape the outcome of this one...

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Accommodating visitors

If there is one team that Barca are almost always guaranteed three points against, it's Rayo.

Paco Jemez will not deviate from the way that he likes to see his teams play football, even if that means they lose by five, six or even seven goals.

Staying true to their principles has won them many admirers, if not as many games as their supporters might like.

In the last eight games home and away, the "Lightning" have scored just twice, losing all eight. Barcelona by contrast have plundered 37 goals.

Even without Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta in the side, the hosts have more than enough about them to make it another uncomfortable evening for their visitors.

Terrific Trashorras

Rayo don't have a squad full of star names but in ex-Barca player Roberto Trashorras, they do have one of the best passers of the ball in La Liga.

Now 34 years of age, Trashorras' influence is beginning to wane but he can still be relied upon to open up opposition defences and thread eye-of-the-needle passes to colleagues.

During last season, Rayo's captain had passing stats that were on a par with Xavi Hernandez. What a shame for him personally that his team mates are often not on the same wavelength.

Although it's improbable that he can author a victory or even a draw at Camp Nou, if Trashorras can provide his usual standards of excellence, he will still be able to end the game with his head held high.

Masche not Mathieu

One of the reasons Barca have struggled in recent games is the addition of Jeremy Mathieu to the back line. The Frenchman offers height and presence but not much else.

Certainly his lack of pace across the ground has been exposed time and again already in this campaign.

Barca evidently look a lot smoother at the back when Javier Mascherano is restored alongside Gerard Pique.

The two have worked in tandem for the last couple of years since Carles Puyol's retirement, and whilst Mathieu can do a job he needs to be used sparingly and not when three much-needed points are at stake.

Will Barcelona get the three points despite the absence of Messi and Iniesta? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Luis Suarez
Lionel Messi
La Liga

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