Barcelona will be bidding to make it back-to-back victories in La Liga when they welcome Rayo Vallecano to Camp Nou on Sunday night.
The Catalan giants, who are second in the table, will enter the contest off the back of a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on Thursday, while Rayo recorded a 1-0 victory over Espanyol on the same night to ease their relegation fears.
Barcelona saw their seven-game winning run in La Liga come to an end on Monday evening when they lost 1-0 at home to Cadiz, but Xavi’s side managed to bounce back away to Real Sociedad on Thursday, recording a 1-0 victory courtesy of a first-half effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Catalan giants are currently second in the table, 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, so they are not going to win the title this season unless something quite extraordinary happens, but the club would be relatively content with the runners-up spot considering their issues earlier in the campaign.
Barcelona are level on points (63) with third-placed Sevilla with a game in hand, while they are crucially six points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis, also with a match spare, so it would be a huge surprise to see them drop out of the top four at this late stage of the campaign.
Xavi’s team have suffered disappointment in the Champions League and Europa League this term, but there have been plenty of positive signs under the Spaniard’s management, and they will be keen to finish the campaign as strong as possible, facing Mallorca, Real Betis, Celta Vigo, Getafe and Villarreal after Rayo.
The Catalan side have been strong at Camp Nou this term, winning 10 of their 15 matches, and they will be taking on a Rayo side with one of the poorer away records in Spain’s top flight this season, although the visitors will enter this match off the back of an impressive win at Espanyol.
Indeed, Rayo eased their relegation fears with a 1-0 success over Espanyol on Thursday, with Sergi Guardiola netting the only goal of the contest in the 42nd minute.
The victory has left Rayo in 14th spot in the table, some seven points clear of the relegation zone with a game in hand on 18th-placed Granada, so they are in a strong position to avoid dropping into the second tier.
The win over Espanyol was the capital outfit’s first in La Liga since the middle of December, and their form in the first half of the campaign has kept them out of the relegation zone despite their recent struggles.
Rayo, who were promoted back to this level via the Segunda Division playoffs last term, will take on Real Sociedad in their next match on May 1, before tackling Getafe, Villarreal, Mallorca and Levante in their final four league matches of the season.
Andoni Iraola’s side actually recorded a 1-0 win over Barcelona in the reverse match earlier this season, with Radamel Falcao netting the only goal of the contest in the 30th minute, but they suffered a 3-1 defeat on their last visit to Camp Nou in March 2019.
Barcelona La Liga form:
Barcelona form (all competitions):
Rayo Vallecano La Liga form:
We say: Barcelona 2-1 Rayo Vallecano
Rayo are more than capable of making this an uncomfortable match for Barcelona, who lost at home last time out against Cadiz. That said, the Catalan giants will be the huge favourites at Camp Nou, and we are not expecting a shock result to take place this weekend.