Rayo have finished 12th and 11th in their two La Liga campaigns since returning to this level, and the capital outfit have also made a solid start to this season, picking up 18 points to sit in 10th position in the table.
Francisco's side have won four, drawn six and lost just three of their 13 league matches this season, and they sit just four points off the top six heading into the next set of fixtures in Spain's top flight.
Rayo actually brought a nine-game unbeaten run into their clash with Girona before the international break, but they suffered a 2-1 loss to the team currently at the top of the division.
Alvaro Garcia actually sent the hosts ahead at Estadio de Vallecas, but Girona then scored twice without reply to secure all the points, inflicting just a third league defeat of the season on their Madrid opponents.
Rayo are actually, quite incredibly, unbeaten in their last four league games with Barcelona, with their last loss to the Catalan giants coming in March 2019. Last season, Los Franjirrojos were 2-1 winners on home soil, while the points were shared in a goalless draw at Camp Nou on the opening weekend of the campaign.
Barcelona, meanwhile, were far from convincing against Alaves last time out, falling behind inside the first minute of the match, before Robert Lewandowski netted a second-half brace to secure all three points.
There has been criticism of head coach Xavi in recent weeks, as the team have lost two of their last four games in all competitions, and their two wins during that run have not been convincing, with the team especially fortunate to escape with all three points against Real Sociedad earlier this month.
Barcelona's 1-0 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on November 7 has put their last-16 spot at risk despite still being top of Group H on nine points; Porto will head to Spain next week, and another poor result for the La Liga champions could leave them in a tough spot in the section.
Xavi's side have won nine, drawn three and lost one of their 13 matches in the league, meanwhile, with a total of 30 points leaving them in third position, two points behind second-placed Real Madrid and four from Girona, who are showing no signs of falling away after a stunning start.
Barcelona have not exactly been convincing in recent weeks, and their next two in the league after this one are actually against Atletico Madrid and Girona, so the team are entering a crucial run of matches ahead of the winter break.
Rayo will be without the services of Oscar Trejo due to a knee injury, while Alvaro Garcia is suspended due to the yellow card that he picked up against Girona last time out.
As a result, there will have to be two changes to the XI that took to the field for the match before the international break, with Randy Nteka and Jorge de Frutos likely to be the two players to benefit.
Head coach Francisco has plenty of options in the final third of the field, but Sergio Camello and Isi Palazon should both keep their spots despite the likes of Radamel Falcao and Bebe being available for selection.
Barcelona, meanwhile, lost Gavi to a serious knee injury over the international break, with the Spaniard set to miss the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is also a major doubt due to a back problem which he suffered during a training session with Germany over the international break, so Inaki Pena could start between the sticks.
Barcelona are hopeful that both Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto will be available following recent problems, while Alejandro Balde should come back into the side after starting on the bench against Alaves.
Rayo Vallecano possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; Ratiu, Mumin, Lejeune, Espino; Palazon, Valentin, U Lopez, De Frutos; Nteka, Camello
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Pena; Cancelo, Araujo, Kounde, Balde; Gundogan, Pedri, F Lopez; Yamal, Lewandowski, Felix
We say: Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Barcelona
Rayo's recent record against Barcelona will hand them confidence, and the visitors are not exactly in their best moment when it comes to performances and results. The Catalan giants often find a way to pick up wins when they need to, though, and we are backing them to secure an important three points this weekend.
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