La Liga leaders Barcelona welcome relegation threatened Rayo Vallecano to Camp Nou on Saturday, looking to consolidate their grip on top spot.
Ernesto Valverde will feel confident that his side can get the win, given that their opponents are struggling in 19th place and Barca are coming off two dominant Clasico wins.
The Catalan giants will be looking to extend their lead at the top of the table as they edge ever closer to claiming yet another La Liga title. All three points on Saturday could see the Catalan team go ten points clear with 11 games to go.
Vallecano manager Michel will know his team face the near impossible task of beating Barcelona in their own back yard, and given that his side last tasted victory on January 11, it makes this task that much more difficult.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 9 March|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||17:30 (GMT)|
|Where Is It Played?||Camp Nou|
|TV Channel/Live Stream||Eleven Sports 1|
|Referee?||Mario Melero Lopez|
Barca will have one eye on their Champions League encounter against Lyon just three days after this fixture but Valverde is set to field a full strength squad, with Thomas Vermaelen and Raphina their only injury concerns. Clement Lenglet is unavailable due to a recent suspension.
Midfielder Gorka Elustondo is Vallecano's sole injury concern ahead of this encounter, while Abdoulaye Ba is suspended. Michel will be hoping his opposition have an off day to give his side a slim chance of walking away from Camp Nou with something.
|Barcelona||Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Arthur, Busquets, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Dembele.|
|Rayo Vallecano||Dimitrievski; Amat, Galvez, Velazquez; Advincula, Suarez, Comesana, Moreno; Embarba, De Tomas, Trejo.|
Head to Head Record
The Blaugrana absolutely dominate the head to head record between the two sides, winning all 11 matches where the teams have met. Rayo have been unable to gather a win or even a draw against Lionel Messi and co.
The side from Madrid came extremely close to picking up points in their most recent encounter but two late goals ensured Barcelona picked up a 3-2 win in the dying minutes of the game.
Barcelona are in good form heading into this fixture, winning three of their last five matchups. A weakened side lost in the Supercopa de Catalunya to cross town rivals Girona, but back to back wins against Real Madrid will surely mean the side are in good spirits.
Barcelona have their round of 16 Champions League against Lyon on Wednesday and will be hoping to go through as the first leg ended in a 0-0 stalemate but a good result at the weekend could give Barca the boost they need to proceed in the European competition.
Rayo Vallecano are in dismal form. Five defeats on the spin have seen the club drop to 19th position on the log, two points off safety. Michel's men are in a relegation dog fight between five clubs and will have to pick up their performances if they are to remain in the Spanish top flight next season.
Here's how each side has fared in their last five fixtures:
|Barcelona 0-1 Girona (6/3)||Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Girona (1/3)|
|Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona (2/3)||Getafe 2-1 Rayo Vallecano (23/2)|
|Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona (27/2)||Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Atletico Madrid (16/2)|
|Sevilla 2-4 Barcelona (23/2)||Espanyol 2-1 Rayo Vallecano (9/2)|
|Lyon 0-0 Barcelona (19/2)||Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Leganes (4/2)|
It is extremely difficult to see anything else but a routine win for Barcelona, but their opposition have scored in their last four away games and in their last four clashes with the Spanish giants, which should give them motivation to attack Valverde's men and get something from this game.
Barcelona will most likely use their quality and patience to break down the Vallecano team and cruise to a comfortable victory ahead of their second leg tie against French team Lyon on Wednesday.
Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Rayo Vallecano