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The odds for Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Click on the links in the table below to head to the sportsbook, sign-up, and place your bet.
Back Barcelona to win to nil (+111)
Xavi Hernandez’s side have wobbled of late, but they should prove too strong for Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
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Boy how Barcelona needed that. Xavi Hernandez’s side were under pressure heading into Thursday’s meeting with Real Sociedad. They had been knocked out of the Europa League a week earlier, going down 3-2 to Eintracht Frankfurt at the Camp Nou. Barcelona were expected to take their frustration out on Cadiz on Monday, but the relegation-threatened visitors sprung a surprise by winning 1-0 away from home. All of a sudden, Barcelona’s top-four place looked under threat.
Xavi’s side have not yet done enough to qualify for next season’s edition of the Champions League, but a battling 1-0 triumph over Real Sociedad in midweek leaves them breathing a little easier. Barcelona are now six points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis, who will contest the Copa del Rey final this weekend. In fact, Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano is the only La Liga match taking place on Saturday or Sunday. That gives the Catalans the chance to open up a nine-point advantage in the race for the top four.
Finishing as one of La Liga’s leading quartet is rarely cause for celebration at the Camp Nou. Barcelona have not finished fifth or below since 2002/03 – and that was a one-off in the last three decades. Usually, Barcelona are challenging for the La Liga title. That has not been possible this term, but they are now the favorites to finish second, which would be an improvement on 2020/21.
Barcelona had to grind out the win against Real Sociedad. They only had one shot on target and just 44 percent of the possession. It was far from a vintage display, but Xavi will have been pleased with the grit and the character his players showed. Nevertheless, an improvement will be expected on Sunday.
Rayo Vallecano were in the city of Barcelona on Thursday, when Sergi Guardiola’s goal late in the first half earned them a much-needed 1-0 victory over Espanyol. It was a long-overdue win – the club’s first in La Liga this calendar year. It may well be enough for Rayo to preserve their top-flight status: that midweek victory has left them with a seven-point buffer above the relegation zone.
It is fair to say this has been a season of two halves for Rayo. After gaining promotion via the play-offs last term, they carried the momentum generated from that achievement into the current campaign. After a 2-0 victory over Alaves a week before Christmas, Rayo went into the winter break in fourth place – above Atletico Madrid, the defending champions, and Barcelona.
Then they collapsed. Rayo collected one point from the first 24 available after the turn of the year. The club stuck by Andoni Iraola, the manager who led them to promotion last year, but doubts started to surface as the defeats piled up. Having been dreaming of European qualification in December, Rayo were suddenly faced with the prospect of an immediate return to the second tier.
That is unlikely to happen now, but Sunday’s match will be tough nonetheless: despite the victory over Espanyol, they have taken fewer points than any other team in the division in 2022.
At this stage of the season, results are king. Every manager in the business would rather win ugly than lose beautifully as the finish line comes into sight. Even an ideologue like Xavi would subscribe to that belief. Even so, the Barcelona boss will expect to see a much better performance from his team when Rayo comes to town this weekend.
In fairness, playing against Real Sociedad is never easy. La Real have the third-best defensive record in the division and possesses the ability to make life extremely difficult for their opponents. Barcelona will be able to find their rhythm much easier against Rayo, not least because the match is at Camp Nou.
The absence of Pedri is a blow for Xavi’s side, but they should have more than enough quality to get past Rayo. They will also fancy their chances of keeping another clean sheet, an aspect of their game under Xavi that deserves more praise: Barcelona have now registered eight shut-outs since the club legend took charge in November.
Rayo are averaging just over a goal per game this term, but most of their strikes came in the first half of the season. Since New Year’s Day, they have found the net just seven times – by far the worst record in the league. Back a home win to nil in this one.
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|Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano Information|
|Teams||Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano|
|Location||Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain|
|Time||Sunday, 24 April 2022, 3.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN+|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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