Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano score, result: Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha can't score in 0-0 La Liga opener – Sporting News

  • September 9, 2022

For all the financial levers, budgetary gymnastics, and selling off of its media properties, FC Barcelona could do no better than a 0-0 draw against Rayo Vallecano in the 2022/23 La Liga opener at the Camp Nou. 
Four of their five new acquisitions were only registered and officially available for selection in the 24 hours before the season opener given the financial challenges the club has been navigating this summer. But even with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen, and Franck Kessie, they could not find a way to break through. It’s the third straight match against Rayo that Barcelona have been unable to score dating back to last season.
Not only did Rayo frustrate Barca, but they also had the best scoring chances in the match. Barcelona ‘keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen had to come up with a big stop in the first half on a point-blank shot, and Rayo thought they had the winning goal at the death, but Radamel Falcao was offside earlier in the play. It was one of three goal scratched for offside.
Lewandowski was the prize catch of the summer for Barcelona, and he was supposed to help resolve matches like these with opponents interested only in defending and countering. But the Polish international did not get many clear looks. He also didn’t get a penalty call when he was manhandled on a first-half set piece right under the nose of the referee. He had a few more opportunities in the second half, but he failed to hit the frame.
Dropping points at home was not the way that Xavi Hernandez was hoping to start a season in which the goal is to mount a title challenge to unseat current champions Real Madrid. In many ways the challenges and the lack of a solution felt like last season all over again. To add insult to injury, captain Sergio Busquets was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card after a high arm in the face of Rayo’s Falcao.
It won’t get much easier for Barcelona in their next La Liga match as they have to travel to face a Real Sociedad team which finished in sixth place last season.

Barca were able to get their wingers involved from the very start and that was by design: They are supposed to be the ones creating opportunities for Lewandowski. But Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele were not nearly as effective as they were in stretches during the preseason.
Barcelona needed more improvisation, creativity, and sharpness from the two. Rayo’s low defensive block had a role to play, but the wingers’ movements felt deliberate, meandering, and at times conservative, and their passing was either predictable, inaccurate, or lacking inventiveness. And they had a hard time finding Lewandowski.
It did not help that Xavi started Raphinha on the right and Dembele on the left for the first 30 minutes of the match. When they swapped flanks to their more natural positions, Dembele was visibly more comfortable and engaged.

The reigning FIFA player of the year is going to have to make some adjustments to his game in Spain, where the tactical set-up of opponents creates different challenges.
Despite its superiority in Germany, Bayern Munich had a bit more space to play in, and defenders were not quite as tight as some of the defending Lewandowski experienced against Rayo. Crosses into the box would reach Lewandowski in Germany, but it proved a real slog against Rayo. There were stretches when you forgot he was in the game. And there are plenty more of these matches left on the calendar.
Lewandowski did show his class on a goal he scored with a delightful chip over the ‘keeper, but he was offside on the pass into him. Otherwise, it was slim pickings for the 90 minutes. He tried to make the best of a poor Raphinha cross in the first half, and then he had a chance to be the hero with six minutes remaining, but he could not contort his body quickly enough to take advantage of a rebound allowed by the Rayo ‘keeper. 
The Dutch do-it-all player gave Barcelona a lift when he came off the bench to play midfield. He had clear ideas and good touches in and around the box, which is what Barcelona were lacking during the match. In hindsight, he would have been a better option than Gavi, who struggled to make an impact on the match.
De Jong’s effect on the game could give Barcelona some pause when it comes to its plans for him in the remaining two weeks of the summer transfer market. There are teams that are interested in acquiring him, but he is a rare talent that fits the Barcelona system. Barcelona could regret letting him go, though the financial picture might be what dictates the final decision.
MORE: La Liga standings table 2022/23
Goals:
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95th min.: Rayo score! Radamel Falcao knocks home a rebound, but he was offside on the original shot stopped by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. What a wild finish to this one.
94th min.: Sergio Busquets sent off! Barcelona down to 10 men after the Barcelona captain gets a second yellow for a high arm into the face of Radamel Falcao. It’s a second yellow and Busquets is off.
90th min.: Eight minutes of stoppage time.
88th min.: Franck Kessie scores after an Ansu Fati shot was blocked by the ‘keeper, but it’s disallowed because Kessie was offside on the original pass.
84th min.: Auba’s shot is cleared off the line by a defender and Robert Lewandowski can’t put the rebound on frame. It’s frantic now.
79th min.: SUBS — Rayo bring in Salvi Sanchez for Isi Palazon at right wing, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang comes in for Jordi Alba as Barcelona go to a 3-4-3 to end the match.
76th min.: Moments after Robert Lewandowski falls to the ground in the box (no penalty), Franck Kessie launches a shot that is way off. You can sense the desperation beginning to set in. Frenkie de Jong is making a strong contribution in the attack.
72nd min.: During the hydration break Franck Kessie comes on for Pedri. Manager Xavi Hernandez is running out of options.
69th min.: Sergio Busquets also gives it a go from distance and his effort is stopped by Dimitrievski. Moments later Radamel Falcao hits Busquets with a dangerous tackle and gets a yellow. Only 20 minutes remain for star-studded Barcelona to find a breakthrough.
65th min.: Ansu Fati fires a curler which is parried away by Dimitrievski. Ousmane Dembele found Fati at the top of the Rayo box, but the goalkeeper was ready for it.
60th min.: SUBS Ansu Fati (for Raphinha), Sergi Roberto (for Andreas Christensen), and Frenkie de Jong (for Gavi). Sergi Roberto will play right back and Ronald Araujo will move to center-back.
As for the Rayo subs: Radamel Falcao is in for center forward Sergio Camello, and Oscar Valentin takes over for Unai Lopez in midfield.
58th min.: Fans are getting on the case of Rayo ‘keeper Stole Dimitrievski for time-wasting. This was his strategy last season when Rayo came away with a big 1-0 win. Changes coming for both teams.
54th min.: Yellow for Rayo center-back Florian Lejeune for pulling back Lewandowski, who had picked his pocket and was breaking forward toward goal.
52nd min.: Another chance for Rayo! Sergio Camello runs onto a ball into space and it’s chaos in the Barcelona defense. But he couldn’t get a clean shot off. He has good footwork, and he caused Barcelona to get into emergency defense mode.
46th min.: The second half is underway and you can already sense the urgency and tension on the Barcelona side. No changes for either side.
Halftime: That was not a good 45 minutes from Barcelona. Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele saw a ton of the ball, but they weren’t nearly dangerous enough for all the touches they had. Robert Lewandowski had one chance but the cross he received was poor.
If not for key stops by Jordi Alba and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Barcelona could easily have been down a goal. Ronald Araujo at right-back is having a tough time dealing with Rayo winger Alvaro Garcia. Rayo forward Sergio Camello has also had a few nice touches in the Barca box.
There’s work to do for Xavi Hernandez. It’s feeling a little bit like last season after only 45 minutes.
Halftime: The referee controversially ends the first half with the ball on Raphinha’s foot in the box and with space to operate. He doesn’t give them a chance to finish out the play and the bench is livid.
47th min.: What a stop by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen! Rayo’s Alvaro Garcia gets into the box from his wide left position, and Ter Stegen comes off his line to cut the angle and block the ball with his chest. That was the best chance of the game.
Rumour has it Araujo is still sliding 💀💀💀💀💀💀 pic.twitter.com/PxbdOui8VE
45th min.: Jordi Alba makes a key defensive intervention in the box to clear a cross that was heading to Rayo’s Isi Palazon. Five minutes of stoppage time. Meanwhile, Rayo’s Oscar Trejo gets a yellow for stopping a Barcelona transition.
37th min.: Moments after Pedri sent a curler that just missed the post, Robert Lewandowski gets a header off, but the ball from Raphinha was behind Lewandowski. Barcelona are pouring it on now.
35th min.: Ousmane Dembele is now on the right flank, where he looks more comfortable. He gets the ball and creates a shot for himself that Rayo ‘keeper Stole Dimitrievski stops without giving up a rebound.
32nd min.: Rayo Vallecano creates the first threat after the break on a set piece. The visitors are showing they can cause problems.
27th min.: Hydration break. Both coaches are animated as they give instructions to their players.
20th min.: Raphinha with a shot from the top of the box that goes high. The Brazilian has been very active. Moments later the other winger, Ousmane Dembele, also fires on goal.
For now these two players are bringing a different dimension to the Barcelona attack with their 1-on-1 ability and their desire to make things happen.
📸 Raphinha pic.twitter.com/tsP6BMfUIb
14th min.: Yellow card to Ousmane Dembele after a dangerous tackle on Pathe Ciss in an attempt to win the ball back. It’s the right call. Barcelona are aggressive, with and without the ball.
Dembele modo casemiro xD pic.twitter.com/gkeTTv7XFN
12th min.: Lewandowski with a delicious chipped goal, but it’s disallowed because he was offside on the ball to him in the box.
10th min.: Quiet start to this one until Raphinha makes a run into the right side of the Rayo box and goes down on a challenge from the left back. But there’s nothing there. Good no call by the referee.
1st min.: Rayo kick off and they’re aggressive from the start with a direct ball, and they’re pressing high. Meanwhile, Raphinha starts on the right and Dembele on the left.
¿El once de gala del Barça? pic.twitter.com/PhNzJ0g50Y
5 mins from kickoff: Teams are walking out on the field. Cameras are locked on Robert Lewandowski. We’re moments away from kickoff
Som-hi!!!!!!❤️💙 @FCBarcelona_es pic.twitter.com/D4q3DRPEHl
20 mins from kickoff: Robert Lewandowski is just getting warmed up.
¡Vamos, @lewy_official! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/WiMimvlS8M
30 mins from kickoff: Barcelona have four wins and two draws in the six matches that Pedro and Gavi have played together in La Liga.
9 – Este es el noveno partido del Barcelona con Pedri y Gavi en el once titular en todas las competiciones. El conjunto azulgrana solo ha perdido dos de los ocho encuentros anteriores con estos dos jugadores saliendo de inicio (4V 2E 2D) y ninguno en LaLiga (4V 2E). Ilusión. pic.twitter.com/rNyeMzmZw1
60 mins from kickoff: Tonight’s match should have the feel of a big occasion.
🏟😍 Avui al Camp Nou arrenca una nova temporada del Barça!

📻 I com sempre us l’explicarem a @carrusel amb tot l’equip i la narració de @LluisFlaquer i a #MogutsFCB amb @joantejedor i companyia

📲 I com sempre tota la informació al Twitter del @QueThiJugues

Let’s go! 💪 pic.twitter.com/2NUtTAewb9
With the summer signings registered and ready to play, Xavi Hernandez opts for this most productive and balanced lineup during preseason. Big names like Memphis Depay, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Frenkie De Jong, and Sergino Dest, who also happen to be in demand on the transfer market, will start on the bench.
Barcelona starting lineup (4-3-3, right to left): 1-Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (GK) — 4-Ronald Araujo, 15-Andreas Christensen, 24-Eric Garcia, 18-Jordi Alba — 30-Gavi, 5-Sergio Busquets, 8-Pedri — 7-Ousmane Dembele, 9-Robert Lewandowski, 22-Raphinha.
Barcelona subs (12): 26-Inaki Pena (GK), 36-Arnau Tenas (GK), 3-Gerard Pique, 20-Sergi Roberto, 28-Alejandro Balde, 16-Miralem Pjanic, 19-Franck Kessie, 21-Frenkie De Jong, 10-Ansu Fati, 11-Ferran Torres, 14-Memphis Depay, 17-Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
MORE: Full Barcelona squad list & player numbers for 2022/23 season
Rayo Vallecano finished the season in poor form, but still wound up in mid-table (12th). They could use some more production out of the forward position: Sergio Camello has won the starting spot over 36-year-old Colombian forward Radamel Falcao, who lost his place in the lineup last season. Luca Zidane and Sergi Guardiola, the sons of Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola, both left the club this summer and are no longer with the team.
Rayo Vallecano starting lineup (4-3-3, right to left): 13-Stole Dimitrievski (GK) — 20-Ivan Balliu, 19-Florian Lejeune, 5-Alejandro Catena, 3-Fran Garcia — 17-Unai Lopez, 8-Oscar Trejo, 21-Ismaila Pathe Ciss — 7-Isi Palazon, 16-Sergio Camello, 18-Alvaro Garcia.
Rayo Vallecano subs (12): 1-Diego Lopez (GK), 30-M. Morro (GK), 2-Mario Hernandez, 4-Mario Suarez, 10-Bebe, 11-Randy Nteka, 14-Salvi Sanchez, 23-Oscar Valentin, 22-Jose Pozo, 28-Pablo Munoz, 29-Diego Mendez, 9-Radamel Falcao
UK: The match from the Camp Nou can be seen on Premier Sports 1 or LaLiga TV in the UK. In addition to being a TV channel, LaLiga TV streams on Amazon Prime Video in the region.
USA: Saturday’s match between Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano will be broadcast in the USA on ABC (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish), which are both available to be streamed on fuboTV
Canada: The match will be streamed by La Liga partner TSN in Canada.
Australia: All La Liga matches are available to stream on Optus Sport in Australia.

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