Barcelona’s new era has got off to a slow start as Lewandowski and Raphinha are shut out in a goalless draw

BARCELONA — Xavi’s new signings could not make the difference against Rayo Vallecano in their season opener at Camp Nou, which ended 0-0. Barcelona dominated the game in possession and created chances, but Rayo held on to get rid of the draw.

– Report: Barcelona 0-0 Rayo Vallecano | LaLiga table | Upcoming fixtures

ESPN’s Sam Marsden has the reaction from Camp Nou.

JUMP TO: Player Ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and Notable Moments | Post Match Quotes | Key Statistics | Upcoming fixtures


Quick reaction

Barcelona’s new era is off to a slow start

Barcelona’s bright new future began with a stuttering goalless draw at home to Rayo Vallecano on Saturday. At least it was better than the two 1-0 defeats they suffered against the same opposition last season.

It was supposed to be different this time. Since losing to Rayo in April, Barca have spent over €150 million on new players. Three of their five new signings started here after most of them were registered in LaLiga just 24 hours before kick-off. However, Jules Konde watched from the stands. Barca do not have enough salary space to sign the defender yet.

Robert Lewandowski has been registered and he led the line, flanked in attack by fellow new signings Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele, but neither could find a way past Stole Dimitrievski in the visitors’ goal. When Lewandowski beat him early in the first half, the flag went up.

Substitute Franck Kessie also had a goal ruled out for offside, while Sergio Busquets and Dembele were both denied by Dimitrievski. When chances fell Raphinha’s way, he missed the target.

The pre-match optimism of the 81,000 fans at Camp Nou turned to whistles in the second half as Dimitrievski wasted time at every opportunity. Barca’s players were also frustrated. Busquets was shown a late red card for a second booking.

It was almost a sting in the tail for the hosts too, with Rayo carving out their own chances. Fortunately for Barca, goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was in fine form to ensure they did not suffer a third straight defeat against Andoni Iraola’s side.

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Barca’s attack may need some time

Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect Barca’s new attack to click straight away. Xavi has incredible depth available to him, but throughout preseason he has shown a preference for Lewandowski, Raphinha and Dembele. Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Memphis Depay are waiting in the wings. They may not all stay beyond the transfer window.

Raphinha shone in preseason but wasted his best chances against Rayo. Dembele blew hot and cold. Lewandowski tried to drive the team forward, but nothing fell completely for him. There was no immediate connection between the three. Substitute Ansu provided as much as a spark when he came on, while Aubameyang saw a late chance cleared off the line.

It took until January of their first season together for Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez to really take off. Let’s see how quickly Xavi can whip this front line into shape.

Rayo shows identification

Rayo finished 12th last season in their first year back in the top flight and showed against Barca on Saturday that they are once again up for the challenge despite having one of the league’s smallest budgets.

Iraola is a fantastic young coach and he has some talented players, despite not having a penny to spend. Isi Palazon and Oscar Trejo were fun to watch at the Camp Nou, but it was the team’s form and understanding that gave them the point.

It is three matches in a row that they have shut out Barca. Luis Suarez’s goal in 2019 was the Catalan’s last against Rayo. It’s not about luck. It’s up to Iraola.


Player rankings

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 7; Araujo 6, Christensen 6, Eric Garcia 7, Alba 5; Busquets 6, Pedri 6, Gavi 6; Raphinha 5, Lewandowski 6, Dembele 6

Subs: De Jong 7, Roberto 6, Ansu 6

Rayo: Dimitrievski 8; Balliu 7, Lejeune 7, Catena 7, Fran Garcia 7; Ciss 6, Lopez 6; Isi Palazon 7, Trejo 7, Alvaro Garcia 6; Camellia 6

Subs: Falcao 6, Ponce 6, Pozo 6, Valentin 6


Best and worst performers

BEST: Dimitrievski

The home supporters were fed up with the sight of him due to the time wasted, but the shot save earned Rayo a point. He made six saves in total in a memorable opening day for Rayo.

WORST: Jordi Alba

Nobody deserves too much criticism for Barca dropping points, but left-back Jordi Alba was perhaps the player furthest from his prime. He is usually such an integral part of the team’s attack, but did not get forward enough or connect well with those in front of him.


Highlights and notable moments

Andoni Iraola has not lost against Barcelona during his time as manager of Rayo Vallecano.

Busquets was sent off in added time, his first sending off in a LaLiga match.

Lewandowski could not find the back of the net in his first LaLiga game at Camp Nou.


After the match: What the managers, the players said

“I understand the disappointment, the expectations are very high. We have to analyze the game, improve and keep believing in the game model. Rayo defended well. It was more difficult for us to create [chances] than usual. It’s a shame because we wanted to show the fans that we’re on the right track. It’s disappointing, but we ask for your patience.” – Barcelona head coach Xavi


Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • Barcelona: the last time they went three straight league games without scoring against the same opposition was against Atletico Madrid in 2020-21; before that they had not gone three straight games without scoring against an opponent since they went four in a row against Real Oviedo in 1989-91


Next

Barcelona: They travel to Real Sociedad on August 21 before playing a friendly against Premier League champions Manchester City on August 24, followed by a LaLiga home game against Valladolid on August 28.

Rayo Vallecano: Rayo travel to Espanyol on August 19, host Mallorca on August 27 before traveling to play Osasuna on September 4.

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