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Another weekend, another game against Madrid-based opposition for FC Barcelona. Rayo Vallecano are the side who visit the Camp Nou on LaLiga Matchday 27, as Ernesto Valverde's men attempt to extend their 7-point lead at the top of the table with a win against the relegation battlers.
The contest kicks off at 6:30pm CET, and has good precedents for Barça: They have won each of their last 12 meetings with Rayo, including a 2-3 victory at Vallecas back in November.
Barça are on a three game winning streak in the league, thanks to triumphs against Real Valladolid, Sevilla and Real Madrid, and several first team regulars have had a week to prepare for the match after sitting out the Catalan Super Cup game against Girona FC.
Second from bottom Rayo have lost their last five LaLiga matches, their longest drought since September of 2013.
Barça's title rivals Atletico Madrid play CD Leganés in the 4:15pm kickoff on the same day, and a slip-up from them would give the Blaugrana a chance to increase their advantage.
Suárez the danger man
Luis Suárez has posed a constant threat to Rayo in games against them. The Uruguayan has been involved in 6 goals in 4 games against the Madrid-based side, racking up 5 goals and setting up a further assist.
FC Barcelona have kept a clean sheet in nine of their last 13 LaLiga games, after conceding at least once in the previous 11.
Five Rayo Vallecano players have been sent off in their last five LaLiga games against Barcelona.
FC Barcelona‘s Leo Messi has been involved in eight of Barça’s last nine goals in LaLiga (seven goals and one assist).
Ernesto Valverde has won seven of his last eight managerial LaLiga games versus Rayo Vallecano, losing only in September 2014 (2-1 at Vallecas in charge of Athletic Club).
Last LaLiga meeting
When the two teams played one another on Matchday 11, Barça needed to rally late on to take the three points. Luis Suárez opened the scoring on 10 minutes, but goals from Pozo and Álvaro García left them trailing coming into the last five minutes. Ousmane Dembéle and Suárez proved decisive, the Frenchman finding the net in the 87th minute and the Uruguayan turning in a stoppage time chance to make it 2-3 at Vallecas.
Barça are seven points ahead of Atlético Madrid, who play Leganés at 4.15pm CET the same day. Real Madrid are now 12 points adrift in third place, and they have a meeting with Real Valladolid on Sunday at 8:45pm CET.
Rayo coach Michel: "Barça have a squad with world famous figures but I am happy with mine. They have the Champions League but they have to win in the league. Nobody is giving anything away and we are going there to compete."
Barça coach Ernesto Valverde - in the video below!
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