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Real Madrid Vs. Rayo Vallecano Match Recap: Kaká Is Looking Good

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When Real Madrid desperately needed goals and victories, Kaká and Cristiano Ronaldo appeared, slicing and dicing like it was 2007 against Rayo Vallecano. Unfortunately, the team wasn't so comfortable--Rayo Vallecano was up 0-1 with a goal in the first 12 seconds. Lass committed a mistake that allowed Rayo a long-distance shot. When Casillas could not block it, he left the ball in the penalty spot for Michu to net it.

It was certainly a frightening way to start, but the team--and Mourinho--knew how to respond and managed to flip the score, so that they were up 2-1 when halftime arrived.

Mourinho surprised everyone by starting both Raphaël Varane and Raúl Albiol, but there was a method to the madness. Because of Marcelo's absence this Tuesday--he saw a red card against Zagreb--and the injury to Fabio Coentrão, Álvaro Arbeloa will the be chosen left-back. That will force Ramos to stay at right-back, so Varane and Albiol will need to start as both Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho are out.

I have to say that I liked both Varane and Albiol. The Spanish center-back did not get himself in trouble and chose the easy option every time. That's a smart move when you are given the start for the first time in a long while. Varane is looking really good, and if the decision depended on me, he would already be the first replacement for Carvalho and Pepe.

After Rayo's goal, our team looked nervous. We had patience but it wasn't enough. Mourinho introduced Mesut Özil for Lass Diarra in the 29th minute. It was a risky substitution, but you have to love our coach for doing it before halftime. Most coaches in the sport wait until the 45th minute to introduce major changes. Mourinho tried to cheer Lass after the change--nobody likes to be subbed in the first half--and the Frenchman seemed to understand that the substitution was necessary.

Kaká had the first chance to score off a nice counter attack that was reminiscent of what he was capable of in Milan. Rayo could only stop him with a foul that the ref didn't even punish with a yellow card.

Then Kaká drove the ball and waited for Cristiano to be open. He delivered the ball to the Portuguese scorer who fiercely struck it with his left foot under Dani's--Rayo's goalkeeper's--legs. It took Madrid 10 minutes after Özil's substitution to score.

In the last play of the half, Xabi Alonso crossed the ball--a good set piece--to Sergio Ramos, who then headed it to Higuaín. The Argentinian just had to push the ball inside, and so he did. Madrid finished the first half up by 2-1. In the replay it looked like Sergio Ramos could be offside, but it was very close and the ref decided to let the play develop.

Six minutes after the game resumed, Kaká drove the ball into the box and forced Movilla to make a penalty. Cristiano Ronaldo took the ball and put it into the net making it 3-1. But four minutes later, Rayo scored again off a corner kick. Mourinho was not happy to let them score off a set-piece, but the worst was yet to come. After their goal, Di Maria--who already had a yellow card--touched the ball with his hand, and the Argentinian had to go the locker room. Mourinho then decided that Benzema and Khedira had to enter the game, and took out Kaká and Higuaín. As I've said before, Kaká played a good game, and so did Higuaín.

In the 67th minute, Varane scored the goal that gave us breathing room. Özil crossed the ball and the French center-back had to play it with his back heel. It was a beautiful goal, and it's good to see Varane scoring. He is a constant menace off our set piece plays, and I think this will not be his last goal of the season.

Six minutes later, Özil passed the ball to Karim Benzema, who scored with a nice first touch strike just outside the box. Benzema is looking confident and if Higuaín gets in better shape, we will have two of the world's top strikers competing for one spot.

Dani committed another penalty off Cristiano Ronaldo when the Portuguese tried to dribble past him. Cristiano converted the penalty once again to complete a hat-trick. The team finished the game calmly, and it was nice to see the stadium cheer the team on again.

I have to give credit to Rayo's right-wing man, Lass B. The Guinean caused Marcelo a lot of trouble by showing his quickness. This guy certainly has talent, and I think he will be very important for Rayo this season. He was arguably Rayo's best player, although Michu was the scorer.

If we manage to beat Ajax this Tuesday, I will be confident calling our slump officially over.


Real Madrid: 6 (Cristiano, Higuaín, Cristiano, Varane, Benzema, Cristiano)

Rayo Vallecano: 2 (Michu, Michu)

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