The competition is more important than usual to Barcelona given they’re off the pace in La Liga and unconvincing in Europe.
Barcelona dominated the opening stages, hitting the woodwork three times in the opening hour. It was Rayo, however, who drew first blood, Francisco Garcia scoring in the 62nd minute to put them into a shock lead.
It lasted just seven minutes, however, before Lionel Messi, returning after serving suspension following his red card in the Supercopa de Espana final, scored after being teed up by Antoine Griezmann to get Barcelona back on level terms.
Frenkie De Jong then put his team in the lead ten minutes later, finishing off an excellent move involving Messi and Jordi Alba to make it 2-1 and put the Catalan giants into the final eight.
Away cup ties against clubs with nothing to lose and everything to gain are always difficult no matter who you’re facing, but one of the unsung heroes of the evening was Ronald Araujo.
The Uruguayan centre-back once again exhibited the defensive solidity that’s made him a guaranteed starter under Ronald Koeman, completing the game without making a foul or being dribbled past according to Mundo Deportivo.
Araujo made seven ball recoveries and two successful anticipations, complementing his defensive statistics by being level with Sergio Busquets in terms of the most passes completed for Barcelona on the night with 74.
Araujo is continuing to prove that there’s no ceiling to his potential and that his future is an exciting one.