Reinforced Barcelona crashes to a goalless draw at home

BARCELONA (AP) — Barcelona mortgaged its financial future to give Xavi Hernández the talent he needed. Rayo Vallecano showed the coach all the work that remains to be done.

Those led by Xavi crashed at the premiere of their reinforced squad by not passing Saturday’s 0-0 draw as host to Rayo Vallecano, in their presentation in the Spanish La Liga.

With the star Robert Lewandowski as the new benchmark, Barça had to settle for this sour start to the campaign in front of more than 81,000 fans at the Camp Nou.

“To look for some extra explanation, we have lacked game, but we have lacked some peace of mind, expectations have weighed on us, we accept them and it better be that way”, Xavi acknowledged. “I’m looking for explanations, not excuses.”

The champion Real Madrid, also current monarch of the Champions League, will be presented this Sunday visiting the recently promoted Almería.

The Catalan club finished with 10 elements after Sergio Busquets received a second yellow card at the start of stoppage time.

“Satisfied you never stay. There is room for improvement. I think we have improved a lot, that we could have won. We have to correct mistakes and watch the next game, which will be important”, said Barça defender Eric García.

The Barcelona board managed to register its reinforcements (except for defender Jules Koundé) and some renewals, one day after its presentation in the championship with the fourth sale of club assets for 100 million euros.

Polish veteran Lewandowski, 33, Danish defender Andreas Christensen and Brazilian winger Raphinha started, while another new member Franck Kessie entered the complement.

The renewed squad was a new jolt in a squad where defender Gerard Piqué and Frenkie de Jong are now substitutes. The last one would be about to leave the club.

Lewandowski offered a sample of his quality when he received a filtered pass from winger Ousmane Dembélé, with a renewed agreement and who defined with a Vaseline shot before the exit of goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski, but the action was invalidated by an advanced position after the first 10 minutes .

The Pole is in his fifth team after making his debut with Znicz Pruszkow in 2006. He became a world star with Bayern Munich, with whom he scored 344 goals of the 525 he has accumulated at club level. With his selection he has 76.

He failed to continue his streak of starting local tournaments by scoring, something he achieved in the last seven years with Bayern Munich.

The best arrival of the hosts came through the boots of Ansu Fati, who entered the complement as a substitute and in his first shot on goal was the victim of a great shot by Dimitrievski. Shortly after, the Macedonian goalkeeper also blocked a shot from Busquets into the corner.

Rayo confirmed that the Catalan team was indigestible by threading their third duel without accepting a goal from the Catalans.

Last season they beat him in both of their meetings with scores of 1-0. In the first round, he caused the dismissal of coach Ronald Koeman.

The winger Álvaro García generated the best option before the break for the Vallecas team, when he entered the area and with a cut he took away Ronald Araujo to take a shot that Marc-André ter Stegen managed to deflect with his arm in the substitution.

Kessie appeared to break the tie with a goal in the 88th, but it was invalidated because she was offside at the start of the action. Ter Stegen avoided with another slap in the substitution.


Alex Baena came on as a substitute late in the second half to show off with a brace with which he led visiting Villarreal’s 3-0 thrashing of Valladolid, which had a bitter return to the first division.

Baena entered at 63 minutes; he signed his goals at 81 and 90. Senegalese Nicolás Jackson opened the account at 49.

Villarreal momentarily assumed the lead with three points; Valladolid is last.


Celta de Vigo were unable to maintain a two-goal lead as they drew 2-2 as hosts to Espanyol.

Iago Aspas scored the goal in the pool at 47; the Galician team increased through a header from the Portuguese Gonçalo Paciencia in the 63rd minute.

The parakeet team’s reaction came through Edu Expósito with a shot from outside the area in the 72nd minute. At the beginning of added time, “Joselu” equalized via a penalty kick, after a foul by Óscar Mingueza.

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