The whole of the attacked Koeman faces the Vallecas fort with the obligation to win and forget the defeat in the classic
«There is no time to be low. On Wednesday we played another game, we have no choice but to get up, “said Ronald Koeman after the loss to Real Madrid. And he was right. With hardly time to digest the result of the classic, Barça will face Rayo Vallecano this Wednesday at the Vallecas stadium, a vital match for the Catalans to begin their umpteenth reconstruction in order to climb the table and reengage in the fight for him qualification.
Barcelona arrives at the meeting against Rayo with many doubts. The match against Real Madrid served to expose each and every one of the culé team’s weaknesses this season. The Blaugranas were soft in defense and again sinned from a lack of hitting in attack, a double error that Koeman had already warned at a press conference on more than one occasion and that cost them dearly against the eternal rival. “You have to work hard, create opportunities and be effective,” the Dutchman insisted on Tuesday at a press conference once again.
To boost the morale of his troops, Koeman will not be able to count on Ousmane Dembélé yet. The French attacker, who remains immersed in the soap opera due to his renewal, has not recovered from the disinsertion in the distal hamstring he suffered with his team in June and remains unpublished this season. In addition, Koeman will not have Martin Braithwaite, Pedri, Araujo and Frenkie de Jong available either, an absence, the latter, which will force Barça to modify their usual midfield. The great doubt for the Vallecas clash is Ansu Fati. The young winger has entered the call, waiting for a final decision on his participation in the game this Wednesday.
Given these casualties and the overload of matches, Koeman will be forced to make changes to his usual eleven. At the rear would be Dest, Piqué, Eric García and Jordi Alba, while in the center of the field is where there would be more changes. The absence of Frenkie de Jong would give way to Sergi Roberto from the inside, while Philippe Coutinho could have the opportunity in attack along with Ansu Fati and Memphis Depay. If finally Ansu was not a starter, his place would be for Sergio Agüero, a footballer who “is ready to start games”, as Koeman acknowledged on Tuesday.
A humble cock
The game will not be easy for Barcelona. In front you will have one of the cockerels of the competition. Andoni Iraola’s Rayo has emerged after the first ten days as a happy team that knows how to exploit all its virtues in attack. They are the second highest-scoring team in the competition after Real Madrid with 17 goals and have already managed to wet their ears in Vallecas, Granada, Getafe, Cádiz and Elche. The twelve points that the franjirrojos have disputed before their public this season have been won and they have done so with a partial of twelve goals in favor and only two against.
For this appointment, Iraola will be able to count on practically the entire squad. The Basque coach only suffered the loss of Martín Merquelanz, who was injured for a long time after undergoing knee surgery in September. With this only absence, Iraola could put into play a very offensive eleven with which to seek the tickle of Barcelona.
Rayo could repeat the 4-5-1 scheme with which he played against Betis and populate the center of the field with players like Comesaña, Valentí, Trejo, Isi or Álvaro García. All of them would be at the service of a Radamel Falcao, eager for an important prey like the culé team.
The latest Barça precedents against Rayo Vallecano could not be more positive for the Catalans. In the last fourteen occasions that they have faced the culés have prevailed. The last clash between the two took place last year in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey and ended with a 1-2 for Koeman’s men with goals from Frenkie de Jong and Leo Messi, two players, yes, no they will be this time.
– Probable lineups:
Dimitrievski, Balliu, Catena, Fran García, Saveljich, Álvaro García, Comesaña, Isi Palazón, Óscar Valentí, Trejo and Falcao.
Ter Stegen, Dest, Piqué, Eric García, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Gavi, Sergi Roberto, Coutinho, Ansu Fati and Memphis Depay.
Mateu Lahoz (Valencian Committee).
19:00. Vallecas Stadium.