Barcelona-Rayo Vallecano Preview: Catalan giants target fifth straight win over Franjirrojos
Buoyed by their stirring fightback against AC Milan in the Champions League, the Blaugrana welcome Paco Jemez's side to Camp Nou hoping to extend their excellent home form
By Karthick Arvinth
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol could be sidelined for up to a month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Friday.
Xavi (hamstring) and Victor Valdes (suspension) also sit out Sunday's clash, but youngster Marc Bartra is available after overcoming a knee problem.
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas and winger Alexis Sanchez may return to the line-up after starting on the bench against AC Milan in midweek.
Rayo boss Paco Jemez will be without suspended trio Jose Manuel Casado, Javi Fuego and Leo Baptistao.
Mikel Labaka has returned to training following an ankle injury but is not match fit, while fellow defender Jordi Amat is available after serving a one-match ban.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Barcelona are on a nine-match winning run at Camp Nou in La Liga.
- The Catalan giants will face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals, with the first leg to be played at Parc des Princes on April 2.
- Lionel Messi (pictured, right) has scored 13 goals in his last 11 appearances for Barcelona.
- Rayo Vallecano are on a four-match winless run away from home in La Liga, losing three.
- Rayo's last win over Barca at Camp Nou was a 2-0 success in May 2000.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Barcelona 3-0 Rayo Vallecano
- 15.48 %
FC Barcelona 4-0 Rayo Vallecano
- 12.63 %
FC Barcelona 3-1 Rayo Vallecano
- 8.57 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 15, 2014||FC Barcelona 6 - Rayo Vallecano 0|
|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|
|Mar 8, 2014||Valladolid 1 - FC Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|Mar 2, 2014||FC Barcelona 4 - Almeria 1||LIGA|
|Feb 22, 2014||Real Sociedad 3 - FC Barcelona 1||LIGA|
|Feb 18, 2014||Manchester City FC 0 - FC Barcelona 2||UCL|
|Feb 15, 2014||FC Barcelona 6 - Rayo Vallecano 0||LIGA|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
The Argentina captain was at his brilliant best as his two first-half goals inspired Barcelona to a 4-0 rout of AC Milan in the Champions League round of 16. Messi will look to add to his 53 goals this season and help increase Barca's 13-point advantage at the top of the Liga table.
The Montengro forward is likely to lead Rayo Vallecano's attack at Camp Nou in the absence of the suspended Leo Baptistao. The visitors will look to make the most of Delibasic's ability in the air as they go in search of a first win at Camp Nou in over a decade.
Barcelona dispelled doubts about their form in spectacular fashion against Milan in midweek and they will now look to put together a run of wins and wrap up the Liga title as soon as possible. Rayo are not great away from home and they are also missing some key players.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed