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Both teams are desperate for points but for different reasons. Rayo find themselves second from bottom before kick-off, and three points could help them to move up at least a couple of places. Barça meanwhile, can cement their position as leaders with their sixth successive win at the Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas.
Eighteen players have been called up for the trip by Ernest Valverde. They are: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Coutinho, Arthur, Luis Suárez, Dembélé, Rafinha, Cillessen, Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Munir, Sergi Roberto, Vidal, Aleñá and Chumi.
Denis Suárez and Malcom have been left out of the squad, while Messi, Samper, Umtiti and Vermaelen are still injured.
Ernesto Valverde believes Rayo pose a threat to Barça and referenced the defeat at Leganés as a previous example. “We are up against a good team. Rayo are an attacking outfit and they have skilful players in midfield and up front. Most of the games they have played so far have been tight. We have to be careful because they play good football, they need points and it will be tough.”
He added; “The defeat against Leganés will be a reference point. Those games are for learning from. We don’t want to commit the same mistake.”
Rayo coach, Míchel, believes his team have nothing to lose. "We know that stealing possession from Barcelona is difficult and that is why there is a plan B for a match like this. We have very little to lose and much to gain.
"We have to make them uncomfortable. Messi is not there, but they have many options, so we have to be at our best."
Rayo have drawn two and lost three of their last five League games, whilst Barça have lost one, drawn two and won two in the same time frame.
Did you know?
Barcelona have won the last five matches between the sides at Vallecas, scoring 23 and conceding just once. Prior to that, the blaugranes managed one win in the previous six. Rayo have had five players sent off in the last four games against Barça.
Our guide will help you work out the kick-off time where you are in the world, and also which TV channels are showing the game. But if you can’t see it for whatever reason, don’t forget that we have live commentary in English on Radio Barça (the link will appear on the home page shortly before the game starts) plus regular updates on our official Twitter feed.
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