Three days after the Real Madrid tie against Racing, our team will be looking to end this bad streak in the Santiago Bernabeu against Rayo Vallecano at 20:00 CET. The recently promoted team is currently 11th in la Liga's table with five points, and with their coach José Ramón Sandoval they have been playing some good football.
Rayo were famous last year because of their financial situation. The team had no money to pay their players so they complained and fought for a new president, who could repair these issues. Rayo finally was promoted to the first division, finishing second in last year's Liga Adelante.Rayo are Madrid's fourth team. Although Vallecas is a suburb of the Spanish capital, it is only 10 or 15 minutes away from Madrid. Most of the people living in this neighborhood are blue collar workers, so we are talking about a pretty poor district in contrast to Madrid.
This represents Rayo's comeback to the Liga BBVA since their last appearance in the first division in the 2002-03 campaign. They have defeated Getafe and got a draw against Athletic Bilbao, but lost at home two days ago against Levante and couldn't score in their second game against Zaragoza.
Following the game, Sandoval had this to say in an interview with Marca.
I would be betraying myself if we were to play defensively against Real Madrid. We will go out to compete--and win. I don't understand the whole debate surrounding Jose Mourinho. He has won everything he has competed for.
Rayo signed former Espanyol and Real Sociedad striker, Raúl Tamudo, and they also have a former Real Madrid left back in their roster, Raúl Bravo. As I've said before, they have been playing well with Trashorras (a common second division player who finally has a chance in la Liga) and Botelho. They have created many goal scoring opportunities, but Tamudo is not the player he was before and might lack a bit of firepower.
Real Madrid will enter the game without Ricardo Carvalho. Pepe and Coentrão are still out, but Sami Khedira is back after the sanction against Levante. Varane played pretty well against Racing Santander, and so did Arbeloa, so I would not be surprised if Mourinho played tomorrow. It is likely that Sergio Ramos will be the other center back, since our coach does not seem to trust Albiol as much.
Mourinho praised Rayo Vallecano in today's press conference:
I only have words of admiration and respect for Rayo Vallecano. They are good people with good character who are passionate about football. We all know the adversity they've faced, and they obtained positive results despite it.
Our coach has decided not to give any hint about tomorrow's lineup. I am guessing he will play his usual starting team with Khedira and Xabi and Di Maria, and Özil, Cristiano and Benzema upfront. Since we face Ajax Amsterdam on Tuesday in the Bernabeu, Madrid needs these three points and as many goals as they can manage. The situation would be different if Mourinho could play Higuaín, Granero, Kaká or Callejón.
I expect Rayo to try to move the ball, but if we are focused and press the ball well, we could manage to recover it quickly. It is important that we start the game properly, showing Rayo that they have no chance of winning the three points. The Santiago Bernabeu needs to be with the team--Mourinho stated this himself--and if we can score a goal in the first 20 minutes of the game, we might be able to grab two or three more.
Let's hope the team comes through so we can say goodbye to all the speculation. Jose Mourinho has a feeling that the team will get the win tomorrow:
I know some of you might be happy about this situation, but my feeling is that tomorrow you won't be, and I say it with all due respect to Rayo Vallecano. We might not win the game, it is just a feeling, but I think we can get the three points tomorrow.
I am sure Madrid will play hard against Rayo and Amsterdam. Let's trust this team, as I am sure we will demonstrate that we just had a bad week.