Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano Prediction: Expect few goals at Camp Nou

 | Saturday 18th May 2024, 17:41pm

Saturday 18th May 2024, 17:41pm

Mark Sochon's La Liga Tips

Barcelona host Rayo Vallecano on Sunday (18:00) in both sides' penultimate engagements of the La Liga season.

Our Spanish football expert Mark Sochon has shared his Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano prediction - including a 7/5 #PickYourPunt.

Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano Tips

  • #PickYourPunt - Under 3.5 goals & Both teams to score - No @ 7/5
  • Ilkay Gundogan to have 2+ shots @ 4/5

Barcelona play their final home game of a disappointing season in the middle of a storm following the latest scarcely believable twist in the soap opera that has become Xavi Hernández’s reign.

A 2-0 win at Almería in midweek has been completely overshadowed by what looks like it could be another big U-turn when it comes to the matter of Xavi’s continuation next season.

It’s only three weeks since Xavi, sporting director Deco and club president Joan Laporta appeared all smiles to announce that the Barça coach would be staying after all, with the 44 year old having initially announced his intention to step down this summer back in January.

However it seems Xavi has ruffled some feathers this week with comments about the club’s precarious financial situation and the difficulty they may have competing for trophies next term. Some pretty well connected sources in the Spanish media suggest that Barcelona have now decided that they no longer want him to continue next season with the uncertainty about that set to overshadow this weekend’s match.

After Girona’s midweek defeat, Barcelona can clinch 2nd place by winning this match. Win their final two games and they’ll actually only be three points shy of their title winning tally from last season so it hasn’t been a totally disastrous campaign, but it is one where they've fallen short in the key moments.

Four of their five league defeats have come against their two rivals at the top of the table while the Champions League Quarter Final collapse against PSG denied them a realistic shot at reaching a Final which would have totally transformed the outlook of this season.

They head into this game having won seven of their last nine in La Liga and they do so as firm favourites against a Rayo Vallecano side that needs just one more point to guarantee survival.

Rayo will also be safe if Cádiz drop points in either of their final two fixtures so they are in a strong position to stay up now and that’s largely the result of a gutsy display in midweek.

Despite being reduced to ten men in just the fifth minute as a result of Óscar Trejo’s red card, Rayo somehow found a way to dig deep and have the better of the game against already relegated Granada. Goals from Florian Lejeune and Jorge de Frutos sealed a vital 2-1 win but you have to wonder just how much gas will be left in the tank for the trip to Barcelona four days on.

They don’t have a great deal of depth to call upon to freshen things up and there seems little prospect of Iñigo Pérez coming here and doing anything but parking a big bus and playing for the point that would keep them up.

The recent history at least suggests it’d be foolish to totally rule Rayo out of getting it. They have a terrific record in this fixture of late, with Barça failing to win any of the last five meetings. Rayo won three of those games and have become a real bogey side for the Catalan giants since returning to the top flight in 2021.

Team News

Xavi has gone with light rotation over a busy week of league action and that’s likely to be the case again here. İlkay Gündoğan returns from suspension and should start with Fermín López potentially pipping Pedri for the other more advanced midfield role after he bagged both goals in the win at Almería.

Sixteen-year-old Lamine Yamal is perhaps due a rest having completed the full 90 minutes twice already this week but Robert Lewandowski ought to continue up front with Xavi showing little faith in recent signing Vitor Roque, which is seemingly another source of contention between coach and board.

On the injury front, Barcelona are still missing Gavi, Frenkie de Jong and Alejandro Balde while central defender Ronald Araújo is rated doubtful once more.

Rayo don’t have any notable injuries but will be missing Óscar Trejo after he saw red against Granada with a more defensively minded midfielder likely to come in to replace him for this one.

Otherwise, Iñigo Pérez could opt for the same starting eleven as in midweek, unless anyone is really feeling the effects after a big shift in Vallecas.

Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano Odds

Barca come into the game as the red hot favourites at 1/4 despite their miserable recent record against this opposition. The Draw is on offer at 5/1 while you can back Rayo Vallecano at 10/1 to record what would be a fourth victory in the space of six meetings.

You can also get odds of 21/20 for Barcelona to win to nil, a winning bet in six of Barça’s last nine matches in La Liga. Barcelona and Under 3.5 Goals is on offer at 23/20 while you can back the home team with a -1 Handicap at 7/10.

If you see Rayo’s defence holding pretty firm as it invariably has done in this fixture in recent years, you can back Under 2.5 Home Team Goals at 4/5 while Under 1.5 Home Team Goals is priced at 5/2.

Robert Lewandowski is the 11/4 favourite to score first while he’s on offer at 8/11 to score anytime. You can also get Raphinha at 13/8 to score at some point in the game while Rayo Vallecano striker Sergio Camello is 18/5 to score anytime.

#PickYourPunt - Under 3.5 goals & Both teams to score - No @ 7/5

Rayo have played quite defensively in their tougher matches since the change in coach and three of their last seven games have ended 0-0. They’ve only let in one more goal than Barcelona this season overall and with only a point needed to clinch safety, there is no danger of them taking many risks in this game or throwing many players forwards.

Barcelona have only scored twice across the last five meetings which shows that, for whatever reason, they have found Rayo a tough side to play against. The visitors are likely to be quite tired here after their midweek exertions, but they are still capable of making life tricky for their hosts.

I don’t see this game producing a huge number of goals and I’m using the #PickYourPunt builder to back under 3.5 goals and both teams to score - no.

Ilkay Gundogan to have 2+ shots @ 4/5

Rayo’s defensive mindset should allow Barcelona to give their midfielders licence to roam forwards and get into lots of advanced positions. İlkay Gündoğan should be one beneficiary of that and he’s likely to play the full 90 minutes given he wasn’t involved in midweek due to suspension.

The German international has had a pretty good first season in La Liga overall. While his return of five goals is down on what he used to manage in the Premier League, he’s still getting plenty of shots away and he should get opportunities in this one to test Rayo keeper Stole Dimitrievski so I’m backing İlkay Gündoğan to take two or more shots.

Find more Football Betting Tips here at Betfred Insights

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