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Rayo Vallecano 0-4 Barcelona: 6 Things We Learned

Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2013

Rayo Vallecano 0-4 Barcelona: 6 Things We Learned

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Barcelona saw off Rayo Vallecano, 4-0, to win their fifth consecutive game to start the new season. The Catalans may have had a festival of goals, but this match was about much more than the score.

    The home side put up a fight against Barcelona at the beginning of the match, but could hold back their opponents forever. We may only be a few weeks into the new campaign, but this match definitely had some lessons to learn.

    In this article, we will take a look at six things we learned from Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Rayo Vallecano. As always, feel free to have your say in the comment section below.

     

    Note that all player and club statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.

Martin Montoya Did Not Take His Chance

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    Arguably the most surprising name in the starting lineup was Martin Montoya. The Catalan defender has rarely played in the last two seasons and finally had the chance to show what he is made of.

    In truth, the night could have gone much better for Montoya who did not play his best by a long shot.

    The right-back made only two tackles on the night and had a pass accuracy of only 71 percent. But statistics aside, Montoya struggled to deal with his attackers and was beaten far too many times than he should have been.

    Probably the worst moment of the night was when Montoya played a pass back to keeper Victor Valdes which had too much pace on it and nearly went into his own net.

    If Montoya is hoping to wrestle the starting spot away from Dani Alves, this wasn’t a good start. Hopefully, the Catalan will be able to play much better in his next start, whenever that will be.

Cesc Fabregas Has Become the First Option

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Last season, Cesc Fabregas played behind both Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the midfield pecking order. Fast forward to today and Tata Martino has made Fabregas the undisputed midfielder at Barcelona.

    While it seems as though Xavi and Iniesta are being rotated, Fabregas plays no matter what. Martino seems to have a lot of confidence in the 26-year-old, and it is paying off.

    With his assist against Rayo Vallecano, Fabregas raised his assists total on the season to five which leads the Spanish league. But he also scored a magnificent goal to cap off a wonderful night for La Blaugrana.

    It may have already been known before this match that the midfield belongs to Fabregas now, but the game against Rayo Vallecano just proved it all the more.

    Every attacking play flows through the 26-year-old, and he is now the one pulling all of the strings.

There Will Be a Battle for the Right Wing

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Barcelona had a real issue last year when none of the club’s wingers appeared to be able to put in a decent performance. The club still has a problem with the wingers, but this time it is a completely different situation.

    There is no question about the left wing of Barcelona, as Neymar has already claimed it for himself. But there has been much speculation over who will command the opposite flank.

    Early in the season, it seemed as though Alexis Sanchez was the clear choice. The Chilean has already scored twice and given an assist this year, while his work ethic cannot be rivaled.

    But Pedro and Cristian Tello are looking to make the selection as hard as possible.

    Pedro’s hat-trick against Rayo Vallecano raised his goal tally to five on the season and threw his name into direct debate against Sanchez. Tello also played on Saturday, and his blistering pace nearly led to a goal twice in the second half.

    Barcelona now has a good situation to deal with. Three wingers are playing very well right now, but there is only one starting spot up for grabs. Competition is always a good thing, and it is paying off right now for La Blaugrana.

Rayo Vallecano Will Escape Relegation

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Rayo Vallecano entered this match with the worst defensive record in Spain, having already conceded 12 goals this season. Letting Barcelona add four more goals to that list won’t look good at all, but there is a silver lining.

    The Madrid-based club may sit right above last place in the La Liga table, but their performance against Barcelona should lead many to believe that relegation will not be an issue.

    Rayo Vallecano showed that they can create chances and have quality throughout the squad that will help them through a long La Liga season. It will not be easy, but they should survive.

    They might not be in the best situation to fight a relegation battle, but Rayo Vallecano is better off than several other Spanish clubs.

    Losing 4-0 to Barcelona can be misleading sometimes. Yes, the Catalans were that much better, but Rayo did not play badly at all.

    Expect the club from Madrid to escape relegation this season. They may even be able to fight for a place a bit up the table.

Tata Martino Has Altered Barcelona's Style of Play

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    I hope you are sitting down for this one. Rayo Vallecano had more possession against Barcelona. Yes, you read that right. The Catalans only enjoyed 45 percent of the possession on Saturday.

    For anyone who follows Barcelona, or has even heard of the club, this should be an unbelievable statistic. Some of you are probably even looking up the statistic right now.

    But what this shows is that manager Tata Martino is tweaking some of what Barcelona does in an attempt to make the attacking more direct and to score more goals.

    We saw last season that possession does not always mean victory. In fact, there were many times last year that having possession hurt Barcelona as they were not able to even get off a shot.

    Do not worry; Martino has not turned Tiki-Taka into a counterattacking style of play. But what he has done is add more direct attacking and a new dimension to the way Barcelona plays.

    Love it or hate it, this added dimension is working for Barcelona. Opponents won’t be able to park the bus as much, and the club should score more goals than we have seen in the past.

     

This Is the Season of Victor Valdes

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Let’s get right to it. This is the season of Victor Valdes.

    Not only did the Barcelona keeper make nine unbelievable saves on the night, but he also stopped his second penalty of the year. If you are keeping count at home, that makes Valdes 2-of-2 this year when facing penalties.

    The 31-year-old has been in incredible form since the start of the new season and shows no signs of slowing down.

    Despite having Lionel Messi, Neymar and others on his team, Valdes has been Barcelona’s player of the season thus far. Once a keeper who was known for his mistakes, Valdes deserves all the praise in the world right now.

    But let’s look beyond Barcelona for a second.

    The argument could also be made that Valdes is, right now, the best keeper in the world based on current form. He has not put a hand or foot wrong at all this season and has already bailed out Barcelona too many times to count, and it isn’t even October yet.

     

    What did you take away from Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Rayo Vallecano? Who was your man of the match? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

     

    Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on Barcelona and all Spanish football.

    Follow @TreAtkinson

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