Barcelona 0-0 Rayo Vallecano: Busquets sees red as debutants fail to inspire Blaugrana in tame display

·4-min read

Barcelona's 2022-23 season got off to a slow start with a goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou.

After finally registering their new recruits on Friday, Robert Lewandowski, Andreas Christensen and Raphinha were handed debuts from the start, but could not provide the difference in a tame display that saw Sergio Busquets sent off late on.

Stole Dimitrievski was forced into action on several occasions but was never really tested, while Marc Andre ter Stegen had to be alert at the other end to prevent a third consecutive defeat to the Madrid outfit.

Barcelona came closest through Lewandowski, who saw a debut goal chalked off and hit another late effort just wide as the hosts failed to capitalise despite dominating possession.

It could have been a different story as Lewandowski took just 12 minutes to find the back of the net in LaLiga, chipping an effort over the onrushing Dimitrievski – but his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.

While Barcelona were in control, the best chance of the opening period fell to the visitors as Ter Stegen was called into action to keep Alvaro Garcia at bay after a fake shot left Ronald Araujo on the deck.

The visitors had another golden opportunity six minutes after the restart, pressing high to steal possession and Sergio Camello danced his way through the defence but was unable to hit the target.

Ansu Fati made a swift impact after his second-half introduction, testing Dimitrievski with a curling effort.

Fellow substitutes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Franck Kessie also came close, the former seeing an attempt cleared off the line while the latter found the net, but the hosts were again denied by the offside flag.

A frustrating night was further compounded during eight minutes of injury time as Busquets was dismissed after being shown a second yellow card for catching Radamel Falcao with a stray arm, while Falcao also had a goal disallowed for the visitors for offside in the closing minutes as both were forced to settle for a draw.

What does it mean? Attack off sync

Barcelona's dominance in the game saw plenty of space for Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha to exploit, particularly in the first half, but they were unable to connect with Lewandowski in the middle.

While the stats show the hosts had a whopping 21 attempts during the course of the match, few were moments of note – with six being on target and an expected goals (xG) of 1.85.

Barca's starting attacking trio managed 13 of those attempts and only three were on target, showing there is still plenty to come.

Lewandowski run ends

After seven seasons in a row scoring on the opening game of the season for Bayern Munich, Robert Lewandowski was unable to provide the same impact on his Barcelona debut.

With an effort chalked off after just 12 minutes, it appeared it would be a long evening for the visitors but the Poland international saw his impact limited – though he had the highest xG of Barcelona players with 0.84.

The first half was particularly sparce on chances, with just one shot in the opening 45 minutes and just two touches in the opposition box.

Barren run extends

Barcelona ended their 2021-22 LaLiga season with two matches without a win, failing to score in either, and saw that record extend to three matches with the goalless draw against Rayo.

That represents Barcelona's longest barren spell in the top-flight since October 2003, while it was only the second time in 14 LaLiga seasons that the Catalan giants have not opened their league campaign with a victory.

Key Opta Facts

- Barcelona have drawn 0-0 their first game of the season in LaLiga for the 6th time in their history and for the first time at home since September 1968 (0-0 vs Real Sociedad).

- Barcelona have played two consecutive games without scoring at home in all competitions for the third time since November 2021 (also against Benfica and Betis in November and against Cádiz and Rayo in April) after not doing so since April 2008.

- Stole Dimitrievski has saved the 10 shots on target faced in his three games against Barcelona in LaLiga from the beginning of last season (five in two games in 2021/22 and five tonight).

- Andoni Iraola is the first coach to keep a clean sheet in each of their first three meetings against Barcelona in LaLiga history.

What's next?

Barcelona travel to face Real Sociedad next Sunday, while Rayo Vallecano are back in Catalonia on Friday against Espanyol.