Barcelona were held to a goalless draw by Rayo Vallecano in their first game of the 2022/23 La Liga, with Robert Lewandowski failing to shine.

Barcelona began their 2022/23 La Liga campaign with a goalless stalemate against Rayo Vallecano at Spotify Camp Nou on Saturday night despite three of their five new signings starting the game. There were a lot of expectations riding on Xavi’s men, especially after they had completed the successful registration of four of their five new signings, along with Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto.

However, they came up against a resolute and well-drilled Rayo Vallecano outfit who kept the Blaugrana at bay for the most part in the first half, with Ousmane Dembele’s scuffed left-footed effort being the only clear-cut chance for them in the opening 45 minutes. At the other end, Alvaro Garcia had the best chance to break the deadlock on the cusp of half-time, but his shot was stopped by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Rayo Vallecano had another good opportunity in the opening stages of the second half, but Andreas Christensen made a vital tackle to stop Sergio Camello from pulling the trigger. Barcelona started to create a few more openings than they had in the first period, but the visitors’ goalkeeper was up to the challenge as he made some vital saves, while Alejandro Catena made a goalline clearance to deny substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Robert Lewandowski’s presence was nearly nullified for most of the game as Rayo did a brilliant job of marking the striker out of the contest as Barcelona finished their first game of the season with just a point in front of their supporters. Here are our player ratings for Xavi’s men after an underwhelming start to the new campaign.

Barcelona Player Ratings

Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7.5/10

The German international was the standout player for Barcelona on the night as he made two vital stops to keep his team in the contest. He was also good with the ball at his feet as usual.

Ronald Araujo: 5/10

Shunted out to the right-back slot, Araujo had difficulties coming to grips with the demands of the role as Alvaro Garcia got the better of him on a few occasions while he was also lacking the usual composure when in possession. Moved to centre-back in the latter stages and was fairly solid but a largely forgettable outing for the Uruguayan.

Andreas Christensen: 7/10

A solid La Liga debut for the former Chelsea ace as he emerged as Barcelona’s most assured defender on the night. Christensen was sound at the back and showed good confidence on the ball. He also made a vital challenge to stop Camello in the second period.

Eric Garcia: 6/10

The Spaniard was not as assured as his defensive partner on the night, and there were occasions when his suspect positioning almost allowed Rayo Vallecano a way through. However, he came through unscathed and played his part in the clean sheet.

Jordi Alba: 6/10

An average display from the veteran full-back, who had his hands full with Camello on more than one occasion. Even then, Alba managed to make progressive runs down the left side, but some of his decision-making was questionable at times. 

Gavi: 5/10

The 2022 Kopa Trophy nominee was handed a start by Xavi ahead of Franck Kessie and Frenkie de Jong, but Gavi failed to justify his selection with a sub-par display. The Spaniard came second-best in the midfield battle against Pathe Ciss and was sacrificed in the second half.

Sergio Busquets: 3/10

A poor start to the season for the Barcelona skipper, who was put under pressure by the visitors when on the ball. And while he did manage to help his team by dictating play at times, there were a lot of aspects of his game that looked off-colour. And it ended horribly for Busquets as he was given his marching orders following a second yellow card late in the game for an elbow on Radamel Falcao.

Pedri: 6/10

The young Spaniard tried hard to make things happen for Barcelona going forward but lacked the support from those around him, who did not seem to be on the same wavelength as Pedri. There were some neat exchanges while he even fancied a shot or two from range but very little came off for Pedri on the night before he was subbed off with a knock.

Raphinha: 5/10

Not a debut to remember for the Brazilian winger, who looked a pale shadow of his confident self that troubled Premier League defenders to no end last season. Indeed, Raphinha seemed to be nervy on his La Liga debut for Barcelona as he failed to create anything of note. He looked even more ineffective after moving to the left flank. Will see better days.

Robert Lewandowski: 5/10

The Player to Watch in our match preview, Robert Lewandowski was hardly given any breathing space by the Rayo Vallecano defenders, who did a fine job of stifling him for most of the game. There were a few moments when he got a glimpse of the goal but failed to hit the target. He did well to create a late chance for Aubameyang and could have won a penalty. But, overall, a debut to forget for the Pole.

Ousmane Dembele: 5/10

A frustrating outing for the Frenchman, as he too failed to find his rhythm, much like Raphinha. Dembele had Barcelona’s best chance in the first half, but his effort was poor and straight at Stole Dimitrievski. He tried to make things happen, constantly swapping wings and looking for holes in the visitors’ defence, but could not have an impact.

SUBSTITUTES

Frenkie de Jong: 6.5/10

Despite all the rumours surrounding his future, de Jong showed what he can offer to this Barcelona side after coming on for Gavi at the hour mark. The Dutchman added a sense of urgency to the proceedings and was a willing runner, driving forward with the ball in an attempt to make things happen. He had to shift into a centre-back role late in the game.

Sergi Roberto: 5/10

On for Christensen in the 60th minute and slotted in at right-back to allow Araujo to move to his natural habitat in central defence. However, Roberto did little of note in his cameo.

Ansu Fati: 6.5/10

Sent on in place of Raphinha at the hour mark, and Ansu Fati added a spark in Barcelona’s attacking play that was missing on the night. His speed and quick moment caused problems for the Rayo defence, and he even forced a save from Dimitrievski.

Franck Kessie: 6/10

Kessie came on for the injured Pedri in the 72nd minute to make his debut for Barcelona. The Ivorian added some bite and physicality to the midfield. He even put the ball into the back of the net but was pulled for offside.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: N/A

On for Alba in the 82nd minute. Saw an effort cleared off the line by Alejandro Catena.

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