No game is easy for Barcelona. The Catalan side went behind at Rayo Vallecano and Ronald Koeman had to turn to three regulars to come off the bench.
Their lack of precision in the final third almost proved costly, but the big issue highlighted was that Barcelona don’t have a plan B that they can rely on, much like Real Madrid.
Koeman pointed out before the game that the Copa del Rey was Barcelona’s best chance at winning a title this season.
The Dutchman went with more regulars than stand-ins in his XI and, when they fell behind, he turned to even more starters by bringing Jordi Alba,Pedri and Ousmane Dembele on from the bench.
The Copa del Rey is a clear priority for Koeman.
Unless there’s an unexpected twist to come, Junior Firpo won’t be on the move this winter, even with Granada and AC Milan interested.
But his situation at the Camp Nou doesn’t look promising, and even less so after Wednesday when he looked a shadow of the player he was at Real Betis.
He got forward, but he never chose the right passing option and was too often imprecise.
It’s not Clement Lenglet’s season. He returned to the XI but he was exposed as Rayo took the lead.
When Sergino Dest returns, Oscar Mingueza could take Lenglet’s place at centre-back.
Fran Garcia, a Real Madrid youngster on loan at Vallecas, couldn’t have chosen a better time to score his first goal for the club than against Barcelona.
With Real Madrid watching closely, he’ll be delighted with his contribution.
Stole Dimitrievski did all he could to keep Barcelona out, putting in a performance that might have put a few LaLiga Santander clubs on alert.
He’s still only 27, but he looked more experienced than that with Wednesday’s performance.
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