This is not how Barcelona envisaged the season would end for them. The Blaugrana may have made a poor start to the campaign but they recovered midway through.
When Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman as manager five months ago, there was renewed hope as the Blaugrana looked to end the season with at least one major trophy.
However, all that hope has withered in recent weeks. Having exited all the cup competitions, the Europa League represented Barcelona’s most realistic chance of finishing the season with silverware.
Eintracht Frankfurt would foil that too after beating Xavi’s side at home. Finishing in the top four is all that is left for Barcelona to challenge for now, which is why their defeat to Rayo Vallecano was very disappointing.
Rayo stun Barcelona
It is almost certain that Real Madrid will win La Liga after opening a 15-point gap between themselves and the Catalan giants in the Spanish topflight.
But finishing as runners-up is firmly within the reach of the Blaugrana. That said, they haven’t done enough, especially in recent weeks, to suggest they deserve to retain that position.
Xavi’s side have now lost three of their last four matches in all competitions, but the defeat to Rayo was perhaps the most upsetting.
The Blaugrana were sloppy and, after conceding in the seventh minute, did very little to get back into the game. They were simply not hungry enough and didn’t display the kind of character needed to overturn the result.
Despite enjoying very little possession, Rayo were resolute in defence and Barcelona played right into their hands after yet another abject showing in front of goal.
A worrying home form
Barcelona have now lost each of their last three home matches and their form at Camp Nou needs to improve if they are to finish the season strongly.
There have now been three disappointing performances at home against Frankfurt, Cadiz and Rayo, and unless this is addressed, the Blaugrana’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League aren’t certain.
“We were all fired up with the great run in the league and the Europa League. I understand it’s not as motivating for the fans and players to fight for second place,” Xavi admitted, as quoted by the Guardian.
“But we have to be in the Champions League, we want to hear the Champions League music next season. There is a lot at stake. In Barcelona’s history it’s about coming first, but we have to understand and motivate ourselves to finish second.”
The Catalan giants are currently level on points with Sevilla in La Liga, which means their position in the league table is not secured. And with five matches left, three of which are home games, the Blaugrana could drop further if they don’t sort out their form at Camp Nou.