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Three takeaways from Barcelona 3-0 Rayo Vallecano

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Photo by MANAURE QUINTERO/AFP via Getty Images

An early goal from Robert Lewandowski followed by a brace by Pedri Gonalez helped Barcelona to a vital 3-0 win over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday night.

Despite the noise away from the field surrounding the manager’s continuity and the tension in the club administration, the players put up a mature and composed performance to take all three points.

The youngsters including Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi and Pedri were all on point as they handed the manager a much-needed win under pressure.

Needless to say, the dominant win last night could well go a long way in handing Xavi an extra lifeline and a possible extension at the club of his life.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Barcelona 3-0 Rayo Vallecano.

A flattering result

While the 3-0 scoreline does appear like a dominant win for Xavi’s men, the game was far from as straightforward as it suggests.

After a reasonably strong start to the game, the Catalans handed Rayo Vallecano the impetus midway through the first half and allowed the visitors multiple chances on goal.

Pathe Ciss, Isi Palazon and Alvaro Garcia all had great chances to equalise and nullify Robert Lewandowski’s opener but all failed to hit the back of the net.

The second, half, in fact, saw Rayo Vallecano create a higher threat than Barcelona as they produced an xG of 0.94 compared to Barcelona’s 0.79.

In just the 57th minute, the visitors created a massive opening in Barcelona’s defence to get through on goal but could not capitalise on their chance.

Their biggest opportunity to equalise, however, arrived in the 69th minute when Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ronald Araujo were forced to deny successive shots to deny Palazon’s double attempt.

Over the 90 minutes, Xavi’s men created lesser mathematical threats on goal than their opponents, and getting away with a 3-0 result under such circumstances did require a tinge of luck. After all, the visitors did miss two big chances and forced four saves from Ter Stegen.

Pedri’s splendid cameo

Xavi opted to start the match with three midfielders – Ilkay Gundogan, Sergi Roberto and Fermin Lopez – on the night. The lineup did thus feature one big absence, Pedri, and the youngster eventually arrived on the field as a late substitute for Lopez.

Two strikes for Pedri. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Coming on in the 62nd minute when Barcelona were still 1-0 up, the Canary Islander changed the texture of the game in a matter of minutes.

Just ten minutes after coming on, Pedri was there to collect the rebound of Joao Felix’s audacious solo attempt. Taking a good touch to bring the ball under control, he volleyed it onto the underside of the crossbar from where the ball found its way into the net.

Less than 180 seconds later, Pedri was on the scoresheet once more, this time with a solo effort. Getting onto the end of Araujo’s long ball over the top, he beat the offside trap and held off pressure from multiple defenders before slamming the ball into the net.

The Spanish gem’s cameo only went on to show why he is so highly regarded in the Catalan capital and how he has returned to his best version after a complicated and injury-riddled season.

Cash in the coffers

A win in the penultimate round of La Liga gives the Barcelona offices massive reason to celebrate. After all, it takes them to clear second position on the league standings.

With one game remaining in the season, the Catalans are on 82 points in La Liga, four points ahead of Girona in the standings. The result thus means that irrespective of the result on the final match-day, Barcelona will finish runners-up in La Liga.

With their place on the final standings confirmed, Xavi’s side are now guaranteed a place in next season’s Spanish Super Cup where they will face off against Athletic Club de Bilbao next year.

More importantly, it guarantees the club a sum between €7 to €8 million as a reward for participating in the Supercopa de Espana, a fee that is much-needed amidst the club’s trying financial circumstances.

Another sequela of finishing second in the league is that the Blaugranas now qualify directly for the Round of 16 in the Copa del Rey, thus negating the need to play two extra rounds in the event.

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