Gerardo Martino’s Barcelona is still undergoing a process of evaluation – not only by the fans but by themselves, too. Up till now the team has met with the requirements of goals. A hat-trick from Pedro and another from Cesc Fabregas paved the way to a Barca victory against a seasoned Rayo Vallecano who managed to come away with a far more significant prize than Barca’s 4 nil win: they managed to enjoy more ball possession than the Catalan giants.
It’s not easy to take the ball away from FC Barcelona. The margin was tight (51% -49%), but serves well to sum up in numbers what the game was like. The roles were reversed from the beginning. Rayo Vallecano planted their defense in the midfield, pushed up, retrieved countless balls and set up Mojica to try his luck against a sublime Victor Valdes in goal. There was no such luck for the Rayo player though as he happened to be up against one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.
There were a few frights for Barcelona but the club sought to remedy the situation with intelligent play. Messi and Neymar were marked with such severity that it often ended up in foulin Barca’s benefit. Preoccupied with Messi and Neymar, the Rayo Vallecano fullbacks forgot to mark Pedro with the same amount of zeal who stuck three goals past them.
Those three goals did Pedro the world of good and also served to throw down the gauntlet to Tata Martino to hand him a regular first team place instead of being Alexis Sanchez’s substitute.
Paco Jémez’s side had the opportunity to make the scores even just before the half time whistle. Trashorras missed a penalty or Victor Valdés stopped it – whatever you want to make of it. The shot was hit in the centre of goal and the missed opportunity cooled down Rayo’s thirst for goal.
After the break, Rayo wasn’t the same and lost much control over the game. Barca’s goal machine was by then in full motion, and it didn’t disappoint.