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Xavi calls for patience as new-look Barca draws blank

China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-15 09:31
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Rayo Vallecano's Stole Dimitrievski in action with FC Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski in Barcelona, Spain, August 13, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Barcelona was held 0-0 by Rayo Vallecano in its opening game of the La Liga season, with Barca head coach Xavi Hernandez later asking for patience from fans as he attempts to gel his new recruits.

The Catalans had 21 shots on goal and the majority of possession at Camp Nou but were unable to break the deadlock.

"We ask for patience. There is time," said Xavi. "We must continue to believe in this game model because it is the right one for success."

Xavi started offseason signings Andreas Christensen, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski, who were only able to feature after being registered with the league late on Friday.

Barca had to comply with La Liga's financial controls before being able to confirm the likes of ex-Bayern Munich attacker Lewandowski in its squad ahead of the new campaign.

"We could have won, but now we have to correct our mistakes and think about Real Sociedad next weekend," said Barca defender Eric Garcia. "We wanted to start the season on the right foot and with a victory, but we knew that Rayo gave us a lot of problems last year. They were good defensively tonight."

The host dominated the opening half an hour as Lewandowski was denied a goal on his competitive debut.

The Poland forward was judged to be offside from an Ousmane Dembele pass before his delicate chipped finish was canceled out.

Pedri then came close to breaking the deadlock but his curling effort flew past the post.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen ensured the sides stayed level at the break with a fine save to stop Rayo's Alvaro Garcia during injury time.

Barca continued its onslaught on the Rayo defense but was unable to beat goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski, who was involved in two heavy collisions on his line within the first 10 minutes of the second half.

With half an hour to play, Xavi brought on Frenkie de Jong for Gavi despite the Netherlands midfielder being linked with a move away from Barca to lighten club debt, which forced Lionel Messi to leave 12 months ago.

Xavi's Rayo counterpart, Andoni Iraola, also made changes in the final 30 minutes including giving experienced Colombia striker Radamel Falcao his competitive debut.

With nine minutes left, De Jong combined with Lewandowski but the 33-year-old's shot skimmed the upright.

Seven minutes later, another Barca summer signing was denied a goal as midfielder Franck Kessie, who arrived from AC Milan, was offside before beating Dimitrievski.

Xavi's side ended the game with 10 men as club skipper Sergio Busquets was red-carded for an elbow on Falcao in the fourth of eight injury-time minutes.

Less than 60 seconds later, Falcao thought he had scored the winner, and claimed Rayo's third straight win over the Catalans, but was found to be offside and the visitor held on for the point.


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