Eight years ago, with Tata Martino on the bench, Barca beat Rayo Vallecano 4-0 but lost in possession for the first time in six seasons and 316 games. Paco Jemez’s side won 51-49% on having the ball. The most radical talibans of Barca’s style shouted it to the sky, the team had given up on their model to win at Vallecas. The coach, only at Barcelona for one season, is still surprised by the consequences of that game. The attacks from the most rabid Cruyffistas were unstoppable. And destiny led to the team winning nothing that season. They lost La Liga in the last week of the season, against Atletico at home.
Barcelona returned to Rayo on Wednesday in a very different context. The style has deteriorated so much that now nearly nobody cares, because there is a bigger emergency: to win, however it is. This Barcelona is not for purist discourse. Nor exquisites. What Barcelona need to do is win games to be able to build a team in the future. They needed to recover from the Clasico with a win.
Without Ansu, Kun Aguero started for the first time, but not even his spirit helped them find a goal. Barcelona were awful in attack, not even creating chances. That means that defensive mistakes hurt more. They couldn’t even score a penalty, with Memphis’s effort saved. The situation is unsustainable. And it’s unthinkable to suggest that the rest of the season - and there’s a lot - will be the same. This until May would be unbearable.