Barcelona lose possession battle for first time in 317 games

The Catalans thrashed Rayo Vallecano 4-0 on Saturday evening, but saw less of the ball than their opponent - something which has not happened since 7 May 2008 against Real Madrid
By Ben Hayward

Barcelona failed to get the better of their opponents in terms of possession on Saturday - for the first time in 317 competitive games.

The Catalans cruised to a 4-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano (which included a hat-trick from Pedro, a Cesc Fabregas strike and a second successive penalty save in a week from goalkeeper Victor Valdes), but Gerardo Martino's side were edged out in the possession stats by 51 per cent to 49% at Vallecas.

Long famed for their passing and possession philosophy, Barca saw more of the ball than their rivals in all of the 247 games coached by Pep Guardiola and in each of the 60 official matches bossed by Tito Vilanova. In total, the Blaugrana had dominated possession for each of their last 316 competitive matches.

But just eight games into the 'Tata' tenure, Barca - with Alex Song in midfield instead of Sergio Busquets - saw slightly less of the ball than the home side on Saturday.

The last time that happened was on May 7, 2008 under Frank Rijkaard, when the Catalans lost 4-1 in a Clasico clash at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga.

Despite losing the possession, Barca stay top of La Liga with 15 points from their five matches.