Rayo coach Paco Jémez is looking forward to welcoming 'Blaugrana' to Vallecas: "We have much ambition and are eager to face one of the best teams in the world, which is something that does not happen every week."
He knows his side face an uphill task, but confident that they will at least remain competitive as he admitted: "If we are to win then we have to score because Barça beat you by creating their own and controlling your chances. Maybe we cannot win, but we can try to change the way of facing the clash."
It's been an interesting week for Barcelona. They found themselves involved in two very opposing matches, an erratic nine goal thriller with Deportivo, followed by the more traditional battle against an ultra-defensive set-up in the Champions League with Celtic, where the home side had a staggering 90% possession according to official UEFA statistics.
Defender Mikel Labaka misses out due to the straight-red he received at Espanyol, whilst Nickie Bille and Manuel Arana are injured. Leonardo Carrilho Baptistão aka Léo Baptistão is this season's Michu (who was sold to Swansea for a pittance this summer), it's four goals in six games for the 20-year-old Brazilian, to net another he is 4.50.
The ongoing injury problems Barcelona have in defence are exacerbated further by their failure to overturn the suspension of Javier Mascherano. They have now had six different centre-back pairings in the last ten matches, Marc Bartra is likely to keep his place with Alex Song once again dropping into the back four. Sergio Busquets returns to the central midfield pivot having been suspended on Tuesday.
Espanyol won their first match of the season last week when playing Rayo, the Madrid side have now won just once in their last six fixtures, though the level of opposition they have encountered should be taken into consideration.
They might be doing it the hard way, but let's not forget Barcelona are still winning, late goals are a result of teams tiring after constant chasing of the ball and stronger mentalities.
Barcelona scored 11 goals in their two meetings with Rayo last season, including a 0-7 hammering on their travels. They hadn't played each other for eight years prior to those matches. Historically Rayo has always done well against the Catalans at home, unbeaten in four games before last April's capitulation.
Odds on defenders scoring goals are often long for good reason. Unless they happen to be their team's penalty taker, they are usually the furthest out-field players from goal, even the most attacking full-backs tend to provide considerably more chances than they finish. Jordi Alba's late effort in midweek took his total to three in four matches for club and country, the converted winger has entered something of a purple patch, for it to continue you can get 17.00 for him to score first or 5.75 to score at any time.
Lack of continuity at the back is beginning to affect Barcelona, their more direct approach means they tend to have less control of games. In attack they continue to create and finish goalscoring opportunities, and as Rayo's manager suggests - the hosts will need to score. It should make for an entertaining match. Barcelona to win at 1.22, with the added caveat of both teams to score at 1.75.
Jémez's description of Celtic's style was "embarrassing," and there will be no parking of buses from his Rayo side. As they look to attack their opponents with sheer aggression, no team has more bookings than Rayo in the Primera, along with three red cards in eight games - 3.20 for a red card - they certainly enjoy mixing it. With Barça having a makeshift defence, expect goals, over 3.5 goals can be obtained at 1.78.
Rayo Vallecano 2-4 Barcelona at 26.00