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Last season Hèrcules won three points at the Camp Nou / PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

Since Guardiola became manager, Barça have played 19 games against newly promoted sides, winning 15, drawing 1 and losing 3. These have often been anything but easy matches, such as the recent one against Granada at the Nuevo Los Cármenes, where only a Xavi free kick split the sides in a game that lacked sparkle.

Another example was the game with Numancia in the 2008/09 season. FCB lost their opening league match in Soria, even though they went on to win not just that trophy but the Champions League and Copa del Rey too.

But they have sometimes torn apart Primera newcomers, such as the 6-1 win against Zaragoza and the 5-0 win in Tenerife in 2009/10. But that was the only season that Guardiola has seen his side win all six matches against the three new arrivals.

Last season, Hercules stunned the football world with a 2-0 win at the Camp Nou, on the back of an international break. Real Sociedad, fresh back in the First Division, also managed to bounce back from an early opener scored by Thiago, and Barcelona had to put the cava on hold. They eventually did clinch the title mathematically a fortnight later, but only after being held by another newcomer, Levante, 1-1 at the Ciutat de Valencia.

All of this is worth bearing in mind ahead of the visit of Rayo Vallecano, who have won more points away (9) this season than they have done at home (7).


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