La Liga Preview: Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano
Pep Guardiola's men will be looking to bounce back from their shock defeat to Getafe over the weekend when they face the Madrid club at Camp Nou
By Luke Matthews
Dani Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal
Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
Pedro, Messi, Villa
Tito, Labaka, Jordi, Casado
Lass, Michu, Piti
Carles Puyol is expected to partner Gerard Pique in the centre of defence after being rested during the 1-0 defeat to Getafe on Saturday, so Eric Abidal is likely to start at left back.
Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta have both returned to training and are in contention for starts against Rayo. Expect the former to be given the nod ahead of Thiago in midfield with Iniesta due to start the game on the substitutes bench.
After Alexis Sanchez struggled to impress over the weekend, Pep Guardiola could rotate his attack with Pedro given a start alongside Lionel Messi and David Villa, after returning from a knee problem.
For the visitors, Raul Tamudo could be given the lone frontman role in place of Andrija Delibasic who struggled in the 2-1 defeat to Valencia over the weekend. Elsewhere, Michel Labaka is expected to return to the centre of defence in place of Javi Arribas.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Barcelona are currently six points behind fierce rivals Real Madrid and will be desperate for victory against Rayo.
- The fixture has been brought forward as Pep Guardiola's men will be heading to Japan in December to take part in the Club World Cup.
- Lionel Messi has grabbed 15 Liga goals this season, the same amount as the entire Rayo team combined.
- Rayo Vallecano have had a successful return to La Liga so far, with Jose Ramon Sandoval's men currently ninth in the table.
- The last time the two teams met in May 2003, Barcelona ran out 3-0 winners at Camp Nou.
- The average age of Rayo's squad is 26.6 years old, compared to Barcelona's which is 24.5.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Barcelona 5-0 Rayo Vallecano
- 23.48 %
FC Barcelona 4-0 Rayo Vallecano
- 14.27 %
FC Barcelona 3-0 Rayo Vallecano
- 10.73 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 21, 2013||Rayo Vallecano 0 - FC Barcelona 4|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Mar 17, 2013||FC Barcelona 3 - Rayo Vallecano 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 27, 2012||Rayo Vallecano 0 - FC Barcelona 5|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Apr 29, 2012||Rayo Vallecano 0 - FC Barcelona 7|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Nov 29, 2011||FC Barcelona 4 - Rayo Vallecano 0|
|Dec 17, 2013||FC Barcelona 3 - F.C. Cartagena 0||ESPC|
|Dec 14, 2013||FC Barcelona 2 - Villarreal 1||LIGA|
|Dec 11, 2013||FC Barcelona 6 - Celtic 1||UCL|
|Dec 6, 2013||F.C. Cartagena 1 - FC Barcelona 4||ESPC|
|Dec 1, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 1 - FC Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
After missing the defeat to Getafe on Saturday with a knock, the former Arsenal man is expected to return to the Catalan club's midfield to provide creativity. Fabregas will also look to get into the opponent's penalty area on a regular basis, and return to the scoring form that served him so well at the start of the season.
The veteran forward will be raring to go against Barcelona, especially after spending so many years at city rivals Espanyol. Tamudo has looked impressive when called upon this season and has four goals to his name.
Despite the defeat to Getafe at the weekend, it is hard to imagine anything other than a comfortable win for the reigning Liga champions when they meet Rayo at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed