FC BARCELONA vs RAYO VALLECANO: Preview, Team News and Prediction

Barcelona look to win their third consecutive game to wrap up the second place before the last match day.
UD Almeria v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports
UD Almeria v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

FC Barcelona return to Montjuïc to play Rayo Vallecano in their final home game of the 2023-24 campaign. After securing a 2-0 win against Almería in beautiful Andalusia, Barcelona will be looking to give their fans one final hurrah by securing all 3 points against Vallecano and confirming their place in the next season's Supercopa de España.

The temporary switch from Camp Nou to Montjuïc has not been a fruitful one for the club. President Laporta claimed that the club was doing everything within their power and are counting the days left for Barcelona to reappear at their renovated fortress in a bid to return to their glory days.

Barcelona played one of their better games this season albeit against already relegated Almería. The team was looking to attack right from the first whistle and were duly rewarded when a brilliant cross from Héctor Fort was headed in by a certain Fermín López who is quickly developing as one of the vital cogs of Xavi's side. Smart judgement and game awareness from Fermín were on display again as he latched onto Roberto's pass to score a left-footed goal and effectively end the game as a contest shortly past the hour mark.

Rayo Vallecano themselves come into this game on the back of a resounding 2-1 home victory against Granada to ensure their safety in the league. The team has been sound and resolute in defence and have shipped in only a solitary goal more than Barcelona throughout the course of this season. The team has shown genuine fighting spirit and have recovered from their mid season crisis.

The reverse fixture at the Estadio de Vallecas last November was an end to end affair which ended in a 1-1 stalemate. Lejeune's late own goal secured a point for Barcelona after the away side was unable to find the back of the net despite waves of attack and constant pressure in and around Rayo's penalty box.

There have been a lot of noise in recent weeks surrounding the Barcelona players and the discontentments surfacing in the dressing room. Xavi and President Laporta have tried their best to nullify the claims but the rumours keep on mounting to add pressure to a team already jeopardised by financial crisis. In such times, Barcelona’s collective display against Almería and Sociedad and the expression of camaraderie between the players comes as a pleasant relief and Xavi would want that to continue going into the final two matches.

Barcelona would be looking to cement their second place this week itself and avoid being under the pump at the Ramón Sánchez against Sevilla on the final match-day. The season has been a disappointing one for the players and fans alike but the Blaugrana have a chance to end things on a high, in front of their home faithful and give their fans a reason to smile.



İlkay Gündoğan missed the last game against Almería but should find himself in the starting XI for this tie. Sergi Roberto was a lively presence in midfield but might have to contend with a substitute role, especially after Fermín's man of the match display last time around. Andres Christensen has been used sparingly off the bench citing injury concerns and that might further propel Xavi to start with 3 conventional midfielders to offer more in attack.

Lamine Yamal has long been due a break and Barcelona would do well to not repeat the same mistake as the one they did when handling Pedri’s game time in his first season. Raphinha was handed a rare break vs Almería and should replace Lamine on the right. Felix too might get his first start in what feels like ages after having most of his appearances limited off the bench. Héctor Fort impressed on his rare start with a solid defensive display and an assist to stake his claim for a second successive start.

Predicted XI (4-3-3);

Marc-André ter Stegen, Joules Koundé, Iñigo Martínez, Pau Cubarsí, Héctor Fort, Andres Christensen, İlkay Gündoğan, Fermín López, Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, João Félix


Rayo have fared much better and have given a better account of themselves unlike what the league table shows. They have been hampered by lack of impetus in the final third but their back four of Balliu, Mumin, Lejeune and Espino have been as good as any in La Liga. Manager Pérez would have to make do without the services of Óscar Trejo who conceded a rash red card in the opening stages of their win against Granada.

Jorge de Frutos made a positive impact off the bench to score the second goal against Granada and might get rewarded with a starting appearance. Sergio Camello will in all likelihood lead their attack keeping the likes of Kike Pérez and Radamel Falcao on the substitute bench.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1);

Stole Dimitrievski; Iván Balliu, Abdul Mumin, Florian Lejeune, Alfonso Espino; Unai López, Óscar Valentín; Isi Palazón, Álvaro García Rivera, Jorge de Frutos; Sergio Camello


Rayo Vallecano have a solid defensive shape and have held the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona themselves to 1-1 stalemates at home this season. Xavi's side have struggled with cutting open teams who employ a low block defensive structure and could be in for a long frustrating night if they fail to strike early. Pressure would be on the home side to get the job done and expect Montjuïc to be abuzz with excitement despite the difficult situation at the club for one final time this campaign.