Camp Nou, Barcelona
Saturday, 19th October, 18:30 GMT
FC Barcelona take on Rayo Vallecano hoping to bounce back from their painful defeat to Sevilla before the international break.
The Catalans find themselves third in the table, locked in points with arch-rivals Real Madrid and Celta Vigo as Villarreal lead the table with a point more than the trio.
The Camp Nou side have won each of their three home games this season, but have not kept a clean sheet since their 1-0 win over Malaga on August 29th.
Rayo Vallecano, meanwhile, travel to the intimidating Catalan stadium knowing that they can, at best, avoid a thrashing.
The La Liga minnows are in the 15th position, having lost both of their last two games and find themselves just a point above relegation zone.
FC Barcelona Team News & Tactics
The Catalan side will be without the services of talismanic attackers Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, with the duo missing due to knee and hamstring injuries, respectively.
Having earlier been in danger of missing the tie due to a muscular injury, Luis Suarez is expected to be fit in time to face Vallecano.
The Uruguay international was recovering at Barcelona due to his international ban.
Suarez is expected to partner Neymar in the FC Barcelona attack, with Sandro expected to take up the final position in the front three.
Sergio Roberto is expected to take up the midfield slot in the absence of Andres Iniesta and Rafinha Alcantara.
Sergio Busquets will provide protection to the back four (or rather back two given how attacking the Barca wingbacks are) with Ivan Rakitic playing as the furthest forward midfielder tasked with running the show from midfield.
The back four will consist of wingbacks Dani Alves and David Alaba, with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano in the heart of the defence.
Claudio Bravo is expected to line up between the sticks as the Catalans look to keep their first clean sheet in over 6 weeks.
FC Barcelona Predicted XI: Bravo, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Alves, Busquets, Roberto, Rakitic, Sandro, Neymar, Suarez
Rayo Vallecano Team News & Tactics
Rayo Vallecano will have to play out of their skin to even avoid a defeat against a depleted FC Barcelona side.
The Madrid based outfit are likely to play a narrow 4-2-3-1 formation, crowding the midfield hoping to thwart the Blaugrana attack.
Goalkeeper To o will have to play out of his skin, one would imagine, to keep Rayo in the tie. Fullbacks Tito and Nacho will be expected to form a tight defence, alongside the central defensive pairing of Castro and Llorente.
The midfield’s primary role will be to shield the defence from the onslaught that the Catalans are sure to unleash on them. Trashorras and Baena will be deployed as holding midfielders alongside the midfield trio of Embarba, Jozabed and Bebe.
Striker Guerra might have a long night in store as he is expected to be playing on scraps in terms of chances.
Rayo Vallecano Predicted XI: Tono, Castro, Llorente, Nacho, Tito, Trashorras, Baena, Embarba, Jozabed, Beb , Guerra
- Barcelona have scored at least 3 goals in 8 of their last 9 matches against Rayo Vallecano in all competitions.
- Barcelona have won 9 of their last 10 home matches in La Liga.
- Barcelona have scored at least 2 goals in 9 of their last 10 home matches in La Liga.
The forward has scored thrice and assisted once in six games for the Blaugrana. Having returned from an injury following the international break, the Uruguay international will be raring to go. In the absence of the Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, the forward can be relied upon to do the maximum damage
FC Barcelona 4-0 Rayo Vallecano
FC Barcelona have not lost at home in the La Liga since the 1-0 defeat to Malaga in February. Rayo were thrashed 6-1 when the clubs last met in the Catalonia capital. While the Catalans do not have the luxury of calling upon Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, one can still expect the quality in the XI to shine through and get a convincing win over the Madrid-based outfit.