HomeFootballBarcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, La Liga: Preview

Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, La Liga: Preview


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FC Barcelona (2nd, 79pts) vs Rayo Vallecano (15th, 38pts)

Competition/Round: 2023-24 La Liga, Matchday 37

Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Gavi, Frenkie de Jong, Alejandro Balde (out), Ronald Araujo (doubt)

Rayo Vallecano Outs & Doubts: Óscar Trejo (out), Óscar Valentín, Diego Méndez (doubt)

Date/Time: Sunday, May 19, 2024, 7pm CET (Barcelona), 6pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 1pm ET, 10am PT (USA), 10.30pm IST (India)

Venue: Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Montjuïc, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano

VAR: José Luís Munuera Montero

How to watch on TV: ESPN Deportes (USA), Premier Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), others

How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), DAZN (Spain), others

Following a comfortable win away to Almería on Thursday, Barcelona are right back in action for their last home game of the season as the Catalans welcome Rayo Vallecano to the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium in the penultimate round of the La Liga season on Sunday evening.

Barça come into this one with a simple task in front of them: win and they’ll officially clinch a second place finish, which guarantees a reported €10 million in additional prize money and a spot in next year’s Spanish Super Cup. This has become the goal ever since Barça were knocked out of the Champions League last month, and they’re now three points away from ending a depressing season in somewhat positive fashion.

The 2023-24 season will not be remembered fondly by Barça fans, though the rise of youngsters like Lamine Yamal, Fermín López and Pau Cubarsí may make this campaign the start of a new successful era even if it didn’t have any trophies to celebrate. But the off-field drama certainly dominated the headlines around the club all season long, and the drama is just beginning as we approach the end of the season.

If you believe the latest reporting out of Catalonia this could very well be the final home game for Xavi Hernández as first team coach, even though the boss just announced his decision to stay at the club three weeks ago. But comments made in a press conference this week angered president Joan Laporta so much that the club chief could decide to part ways with the legendary midfielder, and use the upcoming summer transfer window to transform the squad completely.

The future is certainly cloudy and with many more questions than answers, but Barça must finish second to avoid even more negativity going into the off-season. Rayo Vallecano are Sunday’s opponents and have a knack for causing Barça plenty of problems in recent seasons, and they’re unbeaten against the Blaugrana in their last five league meetings.

They still have something to play for as they need a point from the final two days to make absolutely sure of their top flight status for next season, and they remain a well-organized, dangerous counter-attacking team even if their attack isn’t as high-flying as last season. Rayo are in good form, losing just twice in the last seven games, but they haven’t won on the road in the league since January.

That poor away form combined with Barça’s hunger for a good result in their home finale makes the Catalans favorites to win this one, but Rayo have proven more than enough times recently that they can cause Barça problems if given the chance.

This Barça team cannot wait for the season to end, but they also want to give the home fans a reason to smile in their final time together this season. The upcoming months will be fascinating, but Sunday should be a festive occasion if the team is at its best from the start.

Let’s dance.


Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Cubarsí, Iñigo, Cancelo; Fermín, Christensen, Gündogan; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Félix

Rayo Vallecano (4-5-1): Dimitrievski; Balliu, Mumín, Lejeune, Espino; Isi, López, Ciss, Valentín, De Frutos; Camello


Rayo always cause Barça problems home or away, but they’ve been too poor on their travels this season to pose a real threat to a Blaugrana side hungry to end their home campaign on a high: 3-1 to the good guys.

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