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For all the financial levers, budgetary gymnastics, and selling off of its media properties, Barcelona could do no better than a 0-0 draw against Rayo Vallecano in the 2022-23 La Liga opener at the Camp Nou.

Four of their five new acquisitions were only registered and officially available for selection in the 24 hours before the season opener given the financial challenges the club has been navigating this summer.

But even with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen, and Franck Kessie, they could not find a way to break through. It’s the third straight match against Rayo that Barcelona have been unable to score dating back to last season.

Not only did Rayo frustrate Barca, but they also had the best scoring chances in the match. Barcelona ‘keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen had to come up with a big stop in the first half on a point-blank shot, and Rayo thought they had the winning goal at the death, but Radamel Falcao was offside earlier in the play.

Lewandowski was the prize catch of the summer for Barcelona, and he was supposed to help resolve matches like these with opponents interested only in defending and countering.

But the Polish international did not get many clear looks. He also didn’t get a penalty call when he was manhandled on a first-half set piece right under the nose of the referee. He had a few more opportunities in the second half, but he failed to hit the frame.

Dropping points at home was not the way that Xavi Hernandez was hoping to start a season in which the goal is to mount a title challenge to unseat current champions Real Madrid.

In many ways the challenges and the lack of a solution felt like last season all over again. To add insult to injury, captain Sergio Busquets was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card after a high arm in the face of Rayo’s Falcao.

It won’t get much easier for Barcelona in their next La Liga match as they have to travel to face a Real Sociedad team which finished in sixth place last season.

In the other matches, Celta Vigo and Espanyol played a 2-2 draw, while Villarreal beat Real Valladolid 3-0.


By Amara

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