Barcelona 3-1 Rayo Vallecano: 5 Talking Points, La Liga 2018/19
That being said, the game was not a straightforward one for Ernesto Valverde's side. Barca began the game with key men Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic on the bench, and their absence was felt. Rayo opened the scoring when Raul de Tomas scored with a sweet strike from outside the box. The striker, on loan from Real Madrid, caused a few unsettled nerves at the Camp Nou early on.
Gerard Pique equalised in the first half when he headed in from Lionel Messi's free-kick. Barca crept in front just at the beginning of the second half. Jordi Amat caught Nelson Semedo, and Messi stepped up to give his side the lead. The game was wrapped up late on when Luis Suarez scored from Ivan Rakitic's assist to make it 3-1.
Barca regained their seven-point lead at the top after Atletico had cut it to four points before. Rayo meanwhile are in the bottom three, and relegation is a real possibility for them. Here are the major talking points from the game:
#5 Defensive Rayo fail to build on an impressive start
Rayo lined up in a 5-4-1 formation, and at times, all their players were behind the ball. Coach Michel was going for a defensive gameplan, and it seemed to be working in the opening minutes. The compact defence was organised, and the likes of Messi and Coutinho were finding it tough to create openings.
They were looking dangerous on the counter, and Raul de Tomas soon gave them the lead. The youngster scored with a clinical finish, and all of a sudden it looked as if an upset could be on the cards. But it was not to be.
Stole Dimitrievski's positioning was wrong after Messi's free-kick, and Pique headed home the equaliser. Barcelona began dominating the game, and Rayo shrunk deeper and deeper into their own half. The two goals followed, and Barca could have scored more if they had been more accurate with their final pass. A similar game took place in the reverse fixture, when Barcelona came back from behind to claim the three points.