Barcelona kicked off the 2022-23 season with a disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Rayo Vallecano in the opening match of the La Liga campaign. The Blaugrana were the better side in the game and created several big chances, but simply could not find the back of the net all night and had to settle for a point against a very good Rayo side that put up an excellent fight.
Barça had a slow start to the game thanks in large part to Rayo, who came to Camp Nou with a solid gameplan and frustrated the Blaugrana attack with intense, physical pressing all over the pitch. The referee allowed the visitors to kick the living hell out of Barça players throughout the half, so Rayo managed to constantly stop the Blaugrana’s momentum and never let the home team get into a rhythm.
As time went on, however, Barça’s superiority started to show and they began opening up spaces inside the Rayo defense. Pedri used his skills to win individual duels and find his teammates in dangerous positions, and the attacking trio of Ousmane Dembélé, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski got more and more involved as Barça started creating dangerous chances.
The Catalans came close in several moments but never found the back of the net, and Rayo showed they were still in it when Álvaro García went on a solo counter-attack adventure and almost scored a great goal, but Marc-André ter Stegen made a brilliant stop.
At halftime a valiant and stubborn Rayo side proved their worth and went 45 minutes without conceding, and Barça needed to up their intensity in the second half to find the winning goals on opening night.
The second half started with a big chance for Rayo missed by Camello, but that was the only dangerous attack from the visitors in the final period. The rest of the half was dominated by Barça, who amped up the intensity and started to really bother the visitors with constant crosses and shots.
Goalkeeper Stole Dimitrevski made some huge saves, but every defensive action from Rayo became more and more desperate and last-ditch as the Blaugrana increased their momentum. As we reached the final 10 minutes, however, there were still no goals and desperation started to set in for the home side.
Lewandowski nearly scored a brilliant winner and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang almost found the net with his first touch off the bench, but Rayo continued to survive in the dying moments. Franck Kessie even found the back of the net in the 88th minute, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.
Even with eight minutes of stoppage time there was no way past the Rayo defense, and after Sergio Busquets was sent off for a second yellow in the 93rd minute and Falcao had a 95th-minute winner for Rayo disallowed for offside, Barça were actually relieved when the final whistle came to give each team a point in a goalless draw.
This is definitely not the best way to start the season and there will be huge overreactions because that’s the only way the Barcelona discourse works. This was the first game with a new squad against a very good Rayo side, and there were several positives to take from this one. Not getting all three points is a bummer, but it’s just the first game. Calm down, everyone.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Christensen (Roberto 60’), Eric, Alba (Aubameyang 82’); Gavi (De Jong 60’), Busquets, Pedri (Kessie 72’); Raphinha (Fati 60’), Lewandowski, Dembélé
Red Card: Busquets (90’+3)
Rayo Vallecano: Dimitrievski; Balliu, Lejeune, Catena, García; López (Valentín 62’), Ciss; Isi (Sánchez 79’), Trejo (Pozo 84’), Álvaro; Camello (Falcao 62’)
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