Free-scoring Rayo Vallecano will attempt to put a dent into Barcelona’s title hopes at their Vallecas Teresa Rivero, while the Catalans need to show some improvement following the narrow victory over Celtic.
Having stayed without last year’s top scorer Michu, the club from the suburbs of Madrid were always going to face a difficult task this season.
Nonetheless, after surviving the previous league campaign against all odds, los Franjirrojos were up for the challenge.
The team surprisingly enjoyed a bright start to the season, taking 7 points from first 3 fixtures, but they then suffered a big dip in form and went on to lose four of the next five.
Rayo Vallecano now clearly face an uphill task against mighty Barcelona, but after scoring 11 goals in 8 league games, they are 1.67 (2/3) with Stan James to find the net in this match as well.
Manuel Arana remains sidelined with an ankle problem, while David Cobeno and Piti are both doubtful for this match. Mikel Labaka is suspended.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Ruben – Tito, Amat, Galvez, Casado – Fuego, Abu – Piti, Leo Baptistao, Jose Carlos – Dominguez.
Barcelona may be eight points clear of arch rivals Real Madrid, but with Atletico Madrid breathing down their necks, the Catalans cannot afford to relax just yet.
The major defensive crisis didn’t prove too costly as Barcelona managed to record narrow wins over Deportivo La Coruna and Celtic, but five goals conceded in the two games were simply too much.
That is why everybody at the club was delighted to see Dani Alves resume full training, with Gerard Pique expected to follow soon.
Despite the difficult game against Celtic, the Catalans remain odds-on favourites to beat Rayo, with away win paying 1.29 (2/7) at 888sport.
After scoring 11 goals in first 8 league games, Leo Messi is just 1.36 (9/25) at Stan James to net at least once in Vallecas.
Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol remain sidelined, and with Javier Mascherano suspended, it is Alex Song and Marc Bartra who should form a centre-back pairing.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Valdes – Alves, Song, Bartra, Alba – Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta – Tello, Messi, Villa.