Barcelona, who had the date of the pending match against Rayo Vallecano marked in red, wasted the extra ball provided by the schedule and fell 0-1 against a rival that practically certified their salvation.
Rayo came once and scored. Barça shot up to twelve times, the last ones through Adama and Dembélé in discount time, and even claimed a penalty, which seemed clear in an action between Catena and Gavi, which the VAR did not assess.
With this defeat, the azulgrana lost three consecutive games for the first time in their history at the Camp Nou (the Europa League match against Eintrach and the last two-Cádiz and Rayo-), and lost credit for being second in the table, the only thing they could aspire to.
A thick Barça, without precision or depth, but even worse: with little ambition, they repeated an out-of-focus performance. It was Xavi Hernández’s Barça in tow from the 7th minute, when Rayo, in their only approach on Ter Stegen’s goal, scored 0-1.
The play was the product of the understanding between Isi and Álvaro García. In a good triangulation in the media area, Isi Palazón saw Álvaro García’s diagonal, which surprised Dest’s lukewarmness and the departure of the German goalkeeper from Barcelona to score.
With Busquets very covered by Andoni Iraola’s approach, the Catalans had no creation. Frenkie de Jong was lost for many minutes and only Gavi, with his usual pride, offered a ray of sunshine in the local game.
Well Gavi and Dembélé, who was projected by his band, and was the only source of danger for Xavi’s men. Before half an hour, the only two approaches were signed by two defenders: Araujo and Alba, the Uruguayan with a lukewarm shot; the Catalan with a shot that went wide.
After half an hour, Barcelona woke up. The locals claimed a penalty in an action by Gavi and in minute 34, a poor clearance by Dimitrievski, allowed another approach by the Catalans.
In the last minutes of the first half, Barça pushed harder. More out of inertia than conviction. In minute 43, a volley by Gavi crashed into the crossbar and in minute 45, a slalom by Dembélé, which ended in a foul that did not cause any more problems for the Rayistas.
Barça, who did not have Piqué or Alves at the start, certified their fourth game without scoring in the first half at the Camp Nou. Nothing new under the sun and Xavi decided to change the script in the second half, leaving Dest in the locker room and putting up a defense with three central defenders (Araujo, Eric García and Lenglet).
With half an hour to go, Xavi brought Nico and Memphis into play for De Jong and Ferran, respectively, but his team couldn’t hit the key and hardly generated any danger, apart from a long shot from Alba (min. 58).
Xavi gave it one more lap and put Adama and Luuk de Jong into action in minute 71, in an attempt that no longer worked against Cádiz. Shortly before Memphis missed a close shot (min. 70) and ten minutes later, the Dutchman had another good chance.
In the final stretch of the game, with Rayo more concerned with scratching seconds off the clock than with playing, Barcelona had more arrivals, even claiming a penalty that seemed clear from Catena on Gavi, in a play in which the VAR did not intervene.
In the end, not even 13 minutes of added time were enough for Barcelona to score a goal. The rayistas scored in their only shot on goal, Xavi’s men shot twelve times on Dimitrievski’s goal.
0 – Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dest (Lenglet, min. 46), Araujo, Eric Garcia (Adama, min. 71), Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Frenkie de Jong (Nico, min. 60); Dembélé, Ferran (Memphis, min. 60) and Aubameyang (Luuk de Jong, min. 71).
1 – Vallecano Ray: Dimitrievski; Balliu, Maras, Catena, Fran Garcia; Isi (Mario Hernández, min. 86), Santi Comesaña (Pathé Ciss, min. 55), Óscar Valentín (Trejo, min. 66), Álvaro García; Unai López (Mario Suárez, min. 86) and Nteka (S. Guardiola, min. 55).
Goal: 0-1, min. 7: Alvaro.
Referee: Díaz de Mera (Castilian-Manchego Committee). He showed yellow card to Santi Comesaña (min. 37), Balliu (min. 69), Luuk de Jong (min. 81), Isi (min. 85), Dembélé (min. 89), Alba (min. 92), Mario Hernández (min. 95), Trejo (min. 96), Catena (min. 103) and Gavi (min. 104).
Incidents: Match corresponding to matchday 21 played at the Camp Nou before 57,023 spectators.