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New-look Barcelona held 0-0 by Rayo

Robert Lewandowski has endured a frustrating debut for Barcelona as Rayo Vallecano held on for a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou in their Spanish league opener.

Polish ace Lewandowski and his new teammates were kept well in check by Rayo, who proved dangerous on the break and were only stopped from scoring by the goalkeeping of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

More than 81,000 fans turned out on Saturday to see the new-look Barcelona that club president Joan Laporta built after mortgaging the future of the club to get cash to sign Lewandowski and four other players.

But the closest former Bayern Munich star Lewandwski went to scoring was a header flicked well over the bar in the first half.

Barcelona finished with 10 men after Sergio Busquets got a second booking in stoppage time when he swung his arm into the face of Rayo substitute Radamel Falcao.

Falcao then had what looked to be a winner waived away for offside as Rayo went close to claiming a third straight win over Barcelona, having stunned the Catalan club twice last season.

“It is too bad because we wanted to show our fans that we are on the right path,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said.

“We had generated a lot of expectations, but this is just the beginning…we have to keep our faith in this way of playing as being the right one to win titles.”

Lewandowski, winger Raphinha and defender Andreas Christensen, who also joined Barcelona this summer, all made Xavi’s starting 11.

The three players along with fellow newcomer Franck Kessie and recently re-signed Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto were only declared eligible to play by the Spanish league on Friday after Barcelona sold yet another stake in its in-house production company to improve its troubled financial balance.

The delicate state of Barcelona’s finances meant that it was unable to register Jules Kounde, its top defensive signing, in time for the season opener.

Xavi had said the demands placed on him and his team were higher this season because of the effort the club made to give him a lot more talent after Barcelona won nothing last campaign following the exit of Lionel Messi.

But Rayo coach Andoni Iraola showed that Xavi still has a long way to go to forge a team as well-honed as his, which for a third meeting in a row held Barcelona without a goal.

Iraola’s team, led by midfielders midfielders Isi Palazon and Oscar Trejo, erased all the passing lanes for Lewandowski. Barcelona were unable to find the answer through Raphinha and Dembele, who both wasted the one good chance they each got.

Barcelona’s best chance came from late substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose goal-bound shot was saved by defender Alejandro Catena in the 85th.

But previously, Barcelona had needed Ter Stegen to keep the game scoreless.

Ter Stegen closed out quickly to block Alvaro Garcia’s point-blank shot after the forward had cut back past the sliding Ronald Araujo just before halftime.

Barcelona had another scare early in the second half when Sergio Camello pounced on a ball lost by Araujo. Again Ter Stegen came to the rescue, forcing Camello into taking a shot from a narrow angle that trickled just past the far post.

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