Barcelona’s downslide continued following a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano in an early Saturday fixture.
While the Catalan side didn’t go down in the opening minute like in their previous fixture against Deportivo Alaves, Barcelona once again looked unimpressive in the first half and went down a goal in the 39th minute thanks to a screamer from Unai Lopez.
The display from Xavi Hernandez’s team, especially in the opening half, mirrored what they’ve been showing throughout the better part of a month where they come out sluggish, with poor giveaways leading to opposition counterattacks. The Rayo opener came from a set piece but one they failed to clear properly.
The team looked better in the second half, creating a couple of goal scoring opportunities but were unable to put them away.
It wasn’t until the 82nd minute where Iñigo Martinez put a ball through to Alejandro Balde. The left-back sent in a cross and while initially it looked like it was Robert Lewandowski who headed in the equalizer, it was Florian Lejeune who put it in his own net.
With the score level, Barcelona tried to push for a second but Rayo Vallecano played well with their desperation. Too often Barcelona players tried to rush things going forward, leading to poor control and easy recoveries from the home side. The added seven minutes of stoppage time played very much the same with the Blaugrana resorting to hopeful long balls that went nowhere.
The international break was supposed to serve as a bit of a refuge for both the players and the coaching staff. Giving everyone some time off to get away from all the criticism and come back fresh.
Against Rayo Vallecano, they did little to stop the warranted criticism.
Dropping more points will likely push them further behind the likes of Real Madrid and league leaders Girona. What should concern the decision makers at the club is the lack of improvement under Xavi in now his third year in charge.
Joan Laporta and Deco both backed Xavi in recent interviews but his seat has to be getting uncomfortable. Barcelona can’t afford to drop too many more points should they still want to be in the title race come the new year.
This is going to be an important week for both Barcelona and Xavi and could shape the rest of their season. Midweek, they host Porto in the Champions League and then host Atletico Madrid in La Liga. If they are unable to win those games, a change in manager wouldn’t come as a surprise.