Barça's possession domination streak ends

Spanish champions Barcelona had less possession than their opponents for the first time in over five years on Saturday during their 4-0 win over Rayo Vallecano.

Despite their significant advantage in the scoreline, the Catalans enjoyed just 45 per cent of the ball ending an incredible 316-match streak dating back to their 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid in May 2008.

The statistic is further evidence of how new Barça boss Gerardo Martino is looking for his side to play with more variation than they have in the past five years under Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova.

"Sometimes it is difficult to play out from our goalkeeper and we will look for longer passes," Martino said. "In games like this with such intense pressure it is necessary to win the second balls.

"I liked that in the second-half, apart from the last move of the game, we weren't anxious in defence like we were against Ajax (in the Champions League in mid-week).

"The team has a great capacity to score goals and if we keep a clean sheet then we always have a chance."

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes believes too much is being made of Barça's new direct style.

"There is too much talk about this topic. We don't have to be fixated by it," he said.

"We try to be faithful to our style, but we have a new coach and there might be a new idea."

Understandably the 31-year-old was happier to reflect on his own form, including a tenth career penalty save in La Liga.

"Fortunately with the penalty the ball went straight down the middle and I had stayed on my feet.

"I am satisfied with how everything is going, but the most important thing is that we are winning games. It is important to start like this and we need to continue this dynamic."

Defender Dani Alves claimed after the 4-0 win over Ajax in midweek that Barça are in a "transitionary period" as they adjust to Martino's ideas.

And Gerard Pique also conceded in a recent interview with Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that they had become obsessed with their short-passing style in recent years.

However, Pedro Rodriguez, who scored three of Barca's four goals at Vallecas on Saturday, believes the most important thing is that Barça keep winning.

"We are continuing with our ideals of how to play," Pedro told Gol TV. "We are pressing high and maybe playing a bit more direct, but I think that we are still achieving good results."

Despite struggling at times during Martino's two-month spell in charge, Barça are currently top of La Liga having won all five of their league games so far this season.

They also regained the Spanish Super Cup with an away goals victory over Atletico Madrid and made a winning start to their UEFA Champions League campaign with the thrashing of Ajax on Wednesday.